Satellites and Their Uses

Have you ever wondered what satellites are for? Or how they affect our lives? Well, for starters, satellites are created by man to put them into orbit. We may not know it, but they did and still do a lot of help in our lives. They provide us with security, bring forth conveniences, and relay us with entertainment. Here are a couple of uses of satellites in our lives:


Satellites provide us navigation systems including the Navstar Global Positioning Systems or what’s well known as the GPS. This network of satellites orbiting the Earth is used to establish an accurate location anywhere on Earth.

The GPS works by using four GPS satellites which emit synchronized signals to estimate the time and the position in three dimensions. GPS users determine their location by using a hand-held commercial device which is accurate to about 2 meters. Military applications are more accurate, with less than 1 meter.

satellite on the upper right side, blue earth, white sheets on earth

There are now increasing GPS locators in in-car direction services that allow car-share services to know a car’s location. Both the military and normal civilians use GPS systems to navigate the land, air, and sea.

In North America, the tractors are linked to the GPS, which detects where crops are nitrogen deficient based on satellite imaging. The data gathered is used to adjust the amount of fertilizer they deliver to the crops from then on.

Weather and Climate and Environmental Monitoring

Meteorologists use weather satellites to gather weather data worldwide. It allows them to monitor El Niño, the development of large hurricanes, the effects of burning gas and oil fields, and volcanic eruptions.

The data gathered from these satellites are constantly updated. The data is then fed to large computers which calculate the possible weather pattern developments. Even if the computer models relay timely and accurate data, the predictions are reliable for only 48 hours. It is due to the involvement of a large amount of data gathered.

Satellites are also among the best sources of data when it comes to research on climate change. They monitor prevailing ocean currents and temperatures. The data acquired show that sea levels over the last decade have been rising annually by three millimetres. Satellite imaging also measures how glaciers change in size, that is difficult work when done from the ground since the polar regions are remote and dark. Satellites can also determine emissions of greenhouse gases, vegetation cover, and long-term rainfall patterns.

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Earth observation satellites can monitor the extent of airborne pollution, forest fires, oil spills, and ocean and wind currents. The information gathered can help organize environmental cleanups and emergency responders. Satellites can help in rescuing people in distress who are lost in remote regions. Search, and rescue satellites directly link to the distress radio beacons, leading the rescuers to the emergency location swiftly and accurately.

Television and Telephones

Satellites are not just sending television signals directly to people’s homes; they also send signals which generate programming to smaller stations which then locally sends the signals to the cable and network TV. 

Satellites are also the provider of voice communication in rural areas and areas with damaged phone lines, and in-flight airplane phone communications.

Exploration of the solar system

A spacecraft sometimes becomes an artificial satellite after being sent to explore the planets and then placed in orbit around them.

There are artificial satellites placed around outer planets like the Galileo placed around Jupiter and Cassini around Saturn. The Magellan satellite has orbited the planet Venus, and there were several orbital missions in Mars. Lunar Orbiters have already explored the Moon, and so far, Mercury only had fly-bys.

Space science

Back then, astrophysicists can only study the universe using ground-based telescopes, so they only have limited information gathered. Many of these phenomena are best studied at frequencies accessible only from space by satellite telescopes. These satellites are used to measure the universe’s age and understand phenomena like black holes and pulsars.

X-ray, Ultra-violet, and gamma-ray satellites were also created. These satellites detect the radiation produced by astronomical objects like the stars. Most of this radiation cannot be detected since the atmosphere on Earth’sEarth’s surface is not transparent to these wavelengths.

The data gathered from these satellites helped transform our understanding and knowledge of the universe. For example, astronomers can predict the existence of black holes even though they haven’t been observed directly.

Perhaps the largest artificial satellite to orbit around the Earth is the International Space Station.