How long does it take for a satellite to fall to Earth?

Antonio Lira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to introduce students of science and engineering to the orbital lifetimes of satellites in circular low Earth orbits. It is only necessary to know about classical mechanics for this calculation. The orbital decay of satellites is due to the interaction of the satellite with the surrounding gas, atmospheric drag. Perturbative forces arise from solar and lunar gravitational fields, solar radiation pressure and geomagnetic activity, in addition to aerodynamic drag. Our calculation uses a simple model for atmospheric density as a function of altitude. Finally, the result is compared with another calculation using an improved force model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-74
Number of pages4
JournalPhysics Education
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'How long does it take for a satellite to fall to Earth?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this