Open Journal Systems

Space-based Earth remote sensing: Part 1. Satellite orbit theory

Sung Wook Paek 1, Sangtae Kim 2

Article ID: 646
Vol 3, Issue 1, 2018, Article identifier:

VIEWS - 358 (Abstract) 863 (PDF)


The development of oceanography and meteorology has greatly benefited from remotely sensed satellite data of the atmosphere and ocean. For oceanographers, meteorologists, hydrologists and climatologists to obtain high-quality satellite data, orbits along which the satellites move must be designed carefully. For this reason, Sun-synchronous, repeat ground track orbits have traditionally been used for visible-wavelength and infrared Earth observations. As the needs for varied datasets are growing, however, new classes of Earth-observing missions are emerging such as interferometry and radiometry to name a few. On the other side, satellite platforms and onboard sensors are getting more compact and less expensive, allowing developing nations to launch their own satellites and under-researched parts of the Earth be studied. In light of these changes, this paper introduces new types of satellite orbits from celestial mechanics perspectives, whose applications will be detailed further in the follow-up work.


satellite orbit; Sun-synchronous orbit; repeat ground track; quasi-synchronization; tide

Full Text:



Loveland TR, Dwyer JD. Landsat: Building a strong future. Remote Sensing of Environment 2012; 122: 22–29.

Fu LL, Holt B. Satellite views oceans and sea ice with synthetic-aperture radar. Jet Prolusion Laboratory

Publication 1982; 81–120: 200pp.

Logan T, Holt B, Drew L. The newest oldest data from SeaSat’s synthetic aperture radar. EOS Transactions of

American Geophysical Union 2014; 95(11): 93–100.

McCormick MP, Zawodny JM, Veiga RE, et al. An overview of sage I and II ozone measurements. Planetary and Space Science 1989; 37(12): 1567–1586.

L’Ecuyer TS, Jiang JH. (2011). Touring the atmosphere aboard the A-train. AIP Conference Proceedings 2011; 1401(1): 22–29.

Parkinson CL. Aqua: An Earth-observing satellite mission to examine water and other climate variables. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 2003; 41(2): 173–183.

Stephens LS, Vane DG, Tanelli S, et al. CloudSat mission: performance and early science after the first year of operation. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 2008; 113(D8): 18pp.

Short NM, Stoney W, Rosalanka J, et al. The remote sensing tutorial. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 2004.

Ruf C, Atlas R, Chang PS, et al. New ocean winds satellite mission to probe hurricanes and tropical convection. Bulletin American Meteorological Society 2016.

Scharroo R, Bonekamp H, Ponsard C, et al. Jason continuity of services: continuing the Jason altimeter data records as Copernicus Sentinel-6. Ocean Science 2016; 12: 471–479.

Boain, RJ. A-B-Cs of Sun-Synchronous Orbit Mission Design. AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Conference

Proceedings 2004; 04–108: 19pp.

Heynderickx D. Radiation belt modeling in the framework of space weather effects and forecasting. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 2004; 64(16): 1687–1700.

Vallado DA. Fundamentals of Astrodynamics and Applications, 3rd Edition, New York 2007.

Paek SW. Reconfigurable satellite constellations for geo-spatially adaptive Earth observation missions.

Massachusetts Insittute of Technology 2012; 155pp.

Paek SW, de Weck OL, Smith MW. (2017). Concurrent design optimization of Earth observation satellites and reconfigurable constellations. Journal of the British Interplnetary Soceity 2017; 70(1): 18pp.

Kronig L, Paek SW, Ivanov A, et al. Satellite constellation design for the SOLVE mission investigating diurnal cycles of vegetation phenomena. AAS Space Flight Mechanics Meeting Proceedings 2016; 18pp.

Paek SW, de Weck OL. Greening Earth from Space – Turning Deserts into Forests with Space Solar Power. Journal of the British Interplnetary Soceity 2017; 70(1): 9pp.

Paek SW. A delta-v map of useful orbits for Earth observation missions. Proceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2014; 8pp.

Carter, D. When is the Groundtrack drift rate zero? Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Memorandum 1991; ESD- 91–020.

Dorst, N. (2014). What is the average forward speed of a hurricane? [online database]. URL: [cited 4 May 2018]

Blackwell WJ, Allen G, Conrad S, et al. Nanosatellites or Earth Environmental Monitoring: The MicroMAS Project. AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites Proceedings 2012; 8pp.

Blackwell WJ, Allen G, Galbraith C, et al. MicroMAS: A First Step Towards a Nanosatellite Constellation for Global Storm. AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites Proceedings 2013; 10pp.

Bruccoleri C, Wilkins MP, Mortari D. On Sun-Synchronous Orbits and Associated Constellations. Dynamics and Control of Systems and Structures in Space Conference Proceedings 2004.

Nag S, Gatebe CK, Miller DW, et al. Effect of Satellite Formations and Imaging Modes on Global Albedo Estimation. Acta Astronautica 2016; 126: 77–97.

Balch WM. An apparent lunar tidal cycle of phytoplankton blooming and community succession in the Gulf of Maine. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 1981; 55(1): 65–77.

Hoepffner N, Sathyendranath S. Bio-optical characteristics of coastal waters: Absorption spectra of phytoplankton and pigment distribution in the western North Atlantic. Limnology and Oceanography 1992; 37(8): 1660–1679.

Platt T, Sathyendranath S. Oceanic primary production: estimation by remote sensing at local and regional scales. Science 1988; 241(4873): 1613–1620.

Ahn YH, Shanmugam P. Detecting the red tide algal blooms from satellite ocean color observations in optically complex Northeast-Asia. Remote Sensing of Environment 2006; 103(4): 419–437.

Lowe C, Macdonald M, Greenland S, et al. ‘Charybdis’–The Next Generation in Ocean Colour and Biogeochemical Remote Sensing. AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites Proceedings 2012.

Bourgoin JP, Meyer-Scott E, Higgins BL, et al. A comprehensive design and performance analysis of low Earth orbit satellite quantum communication. New Journal of Physics 2013; 15(023006): 39pp.

(358 Abstract Views, 863 PDF Downloads)


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Satellite Oceanography and Meteorology