synchronous orbit

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astronautics an orbit in which the orbital period of a satellite is identical to the spin period of the central body



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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for synchronous orbit

synchronous orbit

An orbit of a satellite around a rotating body, such that one orbit is completed in the time it takes for the body to make one revolution on its own axis. From the viewpoint of the rotating body (such as Earth), a satellite in synchronous orbit appears to hover over a single position or else to sweep back and forth once per revolution along a single line in the sky. Synchronous orbit is sometimes used synonymously with geostationary orbit, although the two terms are identical only if the synchronous orbit is in the equatorial plane (when the satellite appears to hover motionless over the rotating body). Artificial satellites in synchronous orbits are commonly used in telecommunications, due to their relatively stable overhead position with respect to the Earth's surface. Compare synchronous rotation.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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