Advantages of HEO Highly Elliptical Orbit | Disadvantages of HEO orbit

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of HEO (Highly Elliptical Orbit). It mentions benefits or advantages of HEO orbit and drawbacks or disadvantages of HEO orbit.

Introduction : There are several types of earth orbit. Each of these orbits offer certain advantages and capabilities.
LEO (Low Earth Orbit) : It is used for communication and remote sensing applications, International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope.
MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) : It is used for navigation systems such as GPS.
GSO (Geosynchronous orbit) and GEO (Geostationary Orbit): They are used for telecommunications and earth observation. GEO is type of GSO.
Polar orbit and SSO (Sun synchronous orbit) : Within 30 degrees of Earth's poles, polar orbit is used for satellites providing reconnaissance, weather tracking, measurement of atmospheric conditions and long term earth observation.
HEO : Highly Elliptical Orbit
It can offers applications as supported by LEO and MEO satellites as it similar to LEO on one side and MEO on the other side.

What is HEO (Highly Elliptical Orbit) ?

HEO is the orbit around the earth which is oblong, with one end nearer the Earth and the other end more distant. It is also called molniya orbit.

Following are the characteristics of HEO orbit.
Altitude : 20,000 to 47,000 Km
Orbital period : Longer than 24 Hours, satellites in this orbit appear to be retrograde

Satellite HEO

Satellites in HEO are used for communications, satellite radio, remote sensing and other useful applications. HEO satellites are used to study magnetosphere of planet, astronomical observations etc.

Examples of satellites using HEO orbit include Ellipso, Molniya, Archimedes and Inmarsat satellites such as GX10A and GX10B.

Benefits or advantages of HEO orbit

Following are the benefits or advantages of HEO orbit:
➨Satellite takes medium round trip delay.
➨Satellite to Earth Path loss is smaller on one side and larger on the other.
➨Coverage area is smaller on one side of orbit and larger on the other side.
➨HEO satellites observe less exposure to atmospheric drag than LEO and MEO satellites.
➨It offers services to high altitude regions of the Earth unlike Geostationary orbits.
➨It offers longer dwell time at some point in the Sky.

Drawbacks or disadvantages of HEO orbit

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of HEO orbit:
➨Satellite systems are complex compare to other orbit satellites.
➨It offers highest propagation delay on one side of the Earth.
➨It offers selected area coverage.
➨Satellites in HEO appear to be heading in opposite direction.
➨Cost of manufacturing and launching is higher.

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