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Satellite Systems and Communications

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Meteorological satellites can be classified into two main categories; Geostationary and Polar-orbiting. The polar-orbiting type of meteorological satellite navigates over the poles at distances approximated to be of around 850 km. This type of satellites has the ability to observe the entire earth surface as they move along fixed orbits in space as the earth rotates below them. The areas observed on each swath are normally near the equator as well as other regions that overlap the equator moving towards the pole. A single swath covers approximately 2600km wide.

Such satellites cover 14 orbits each day and hence offer global coverage two times in two days. Some of the satellites orbiting the polar include; IRS, NOAA, ERS-2, and ERS-1, Oceans, and DMSP (Rao, 1990). The Geostationary type of meteorological satellites provides meteorological images by moving around the earth surface but over the equator at a distance of approximately 36000kms above the surface. They take 24hours to go around one orbit as they are normally synchronized with the earth as it rotates about its axis. This synchronization with the earth makes them remain in the same location with reference to the equator.

This type of satellite has the advantage of having a high resolution of its data that is time-scaled. The satellite provides new images of the whole disc of the earth after every 30 minutes. However, the spatial resolution of this satellite is limited compared to that of the polar-orbiting with respect to the earth’ s distance. Useful information from the satellite is normally restricted to the region between 70deg. S and north latitudes. Some geostationary satellite examples include GEOS-E, GEOS-W, GMS, METEOSAT-6, METEOSAT-5, and INSAT-1(Rao, 1990).

Remote sensing instruments commonly known as the sensors are basically meant to measure photons. The sensor operation fundamental principle is mainly centered at the detector which remains a critical component of the sensors.

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