Advantages of LEO Orbit | disadvantages of LEO Orbit

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of LEO Orbit. It mentions LEO Orbit advantages and LEO Orbit disadvantages. LEO stands for Low Earth Orbit.

There are three main types of orbits viz. LEO, MEO and GEO based on distances from lowest to the highest from the Earth. There are orbits around the earth where satellites are installed after their launch. Following are the features of LEO orbit.
• Orbit period: 10 to 40 minutes
• Orbit height from Earth: 500 to 1500 Km
• Life of satellite in the orbit: Short
• Propagation loss in the orbit: Least
• Number of satellites to cover entire regions on Earth: 40 to 80

LEO orbit

The figure-1 depicts LEO (Low Earth Orbit).
LEO vs MEO vs GEO and satellite basics for more information.

Advantages of LEO orbit

Following are the advantages of LEO orbit:
➨As it is near to the earth, LEO satellites launced in LEO orbit provides better signal strength. Hence less power (about 1 watt) is needed for transmission.
➨It has least propagation delay (about 10ms) compare to other orbits due to closeness to the Earth. Due to lower latency, it can be used for realtime time critical applications.
➨It eliminates need for bulky receiver equipments due to higher C/N signal ratio.
➨Low price satellite equipments are sufficient for ground stations.
➨Better frequency reuse can be achieved due to smaller footprints.
➨It provides high elevation for polar regions of the Earth. Hence better global coverage can be achieved.

Disadvantages of LEO orbit

Following are the disadvantages of LEO orbit:
➨As it is at lesser distance above the Earth, it covers less region of the earth. Hence large number of satellites are needed to cover the entire region of the Earth. Hence the installation of such LEO based system is costly.
➨As LEO satellites move constantly and hence service is being handed off by each satellite to the next one in the constellation. Hence succession of satellites are required to cover any region on the Earth.
➨Atmospheric effects are more and hence will cause gradual orbital dis-orientation of the satellites. This requires regular maintenance of satellites to keep them on track in the LEO orbit.
➨It is only visible for 15 to 20 minutes from particular area of the Earth. Hence there is less time available for testing and troubleshooting activities.
➨Efficiency to serve populated region is less compare to GEO satellites.
➨Ground station is very complex as it requires to handle frequent handoffs between LEO satellites.
➨The complete deployment of LEO constellation is essential to start the service to the customers. Hence it requires more time to provide the satellite service & mass adoption by the users compare to GEO.
➨LEO satellites have shorter life span (about 5 to 8 years) compare to GEO satellites (about 10 years).

Also refer advantages and disadvantages of MEO >> and GEO >>.

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