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Orbiting space station is observed to remain always vertically above

  1. Apr 13, 2008 #1
    Why is it that if an orbiting space station is observed to remain always vertically above the same point on Earth then the observer must be on the equator of Earth?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2008 #2

    DaveC426913

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    Why do you think?
     
  4. Apr 13, 2008 #3

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Strictly speaking the statement isn't true. The observer doesn't need to be on the equator, but the point above which the geosynchronous space station remains stationary must be on the equator. (I am having trouble telling if I wrote that correctly)
     
  5. Apr 14, 2008 #4

    DaveC426913

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    Here's a hint:
    This is a (randomly Googled) world map with some orbits superimposed on it. Why do the orbits seem to follow nice sine waves instead of straight lines? What properties of the two orbits illustrated would cause the two sine waves to have different amplitudes (heights)?
     
  6. Apr 15, 2008 #5
    The thesis is wrong. The orbit of the space station will always around the core of the Earth but not neccesarily around the equator. You will see the space station always above you if it has the same angular velocity as the Earth. For example telecommunication satellites work like this. They are put into orbit by high powered rockets so that they have angular velocity the same as that of the Earth.
     
  7. Apr 15, 2008 #6

    DaveC426913

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    I am not sure what this person is talking about. There's some misleading info here.
    1] What thesis?
    2] A satelllite will NOT always be above you if it isn't in an equatorial orbit.
     
  8. Apr 15, 2008 #7

    D H

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    In order for the space station to remain vertically above the same point on the Earth (this is a given condition), the space station must be in an equatorial geosynchronous orbit (i.e., a geostationary orbit). There are no other orbits that satisfy this given condition.
     
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