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Difference between Sun synchronous orbit and Geosynchronous orbit

This page compares Sun synchronous orbit vs Geosynchronous orbit and mentions difference between Sun synchronous orbit and Geosynchronous orbit.

What is Sun Synchronous Orbit ?

• An earth satellite orbit in which the orbital plane is near polar and the altitude is such that satellite passes over all places on earth having same latitude twice in each orbit at the same local suntime.
• These orbits allow satellite to pass over a section of the Earth at the same time of the day. Since there are 365 days in a year and 360 degrees in a circle. This means satellite has to shift its orbital plane by approx. one degree per day.
• This is the orbit in which satellite's orbital plane is at a fixed orientation to the sun. The orbit is designed in such a way that angle between orbital plane and sun remains constant. This results into consistent lighting conditions.
• This orbit lies at a altitude between 700 to 800 Km above the Earth.
➨Examples of sun synchronous satellites include Landsat series, SPOT series, IRS series, NOAA, SEASAT, TIROS etc.

Sun synchronous orbit vs geosynchronous orbit

What is Geosynchronous Orbit ?

• These satellites are synchronous with respect to the Earth. This means looking from a fixed point from earth, these satellites appear to be stationary.
• This satellite covers around 1/3 (i.e. 120 degrees latitude) of the Earth's surface.
• This orbit lies 37786 Km above the surface of the earth.
• At the above altitude, satellite needs exactly about 24 hours to orbit around the earth, this is the same time earth takes to perform a complete revolution around its axis. Hence the name geosynchronous orbit.
• The satellites placed in this orbit must travel in rotational speed of the earth and direction of motion of earth which is eastward.
• In this orbit, satellites hover at a right angle above the equator, hence they seem to be stationary in the sky when we see from th earth. Due to this position, satellites always see the same section of the earth surface all the time.
• The inclination of geosynchronous satellite with respect to earth must be zero.

Let us summarize difference between Sun synchronous orbit and Geosynchronous orbit.
➨Sun synchronous orbit is located at the altitude of 700 to 800 Km. Geosynchronous orbit is located at altitude of 35786 Km.
➨Orbital period of sun synchronous satellite is about 100 minutes. Geosynchronous orbit period is one sidereal day which is about 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds.
➨Sun synchronous orbit satellites help in monitoring activities near the poles unlike geosynchronous orbit satellites. Geosynchronous satellite can view a particular spot on the Earth's surface continuously unlike sun synchronous satellite.


Satellite related links

To know more about satellite go through following mentioned links:
Satellite tutorial   what is a satellite   Satellite frequency bands of operation   Parts of a satellite   Satellite Orbits   Satellite Services   Satellite types   Satellite Capacity Allocation   Satellite Network Configuration   Satellite Applications   Satellite Terminology  Satellite Applications   Satellite Launch Procedure   Remote sensing satellites   Satellite TTC   Satellite Launch Service Providers   Satellite Parts Manufacturers  

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