10 Of The Most Important Satellites Orbiting Earth

Mar 28, 2015Science, Space0 comments


What are some Of The Most Important Satellites Orbiting Earth ?

Whether you checked a weather report, watched SportsCenter or looked for your mom’s house on Google Maps, you did something that would have been impossible without an automated spacecraft orbiting hundreds of miles above your head. But how many of these satellites orbiting Earth do you know by name? Here are the top ten you need to know, because they make modern life possible.

First, two caveats: most of these satellites are representative of an entire class of satellites. There may be others that serve similar functions, but the satellites listed are exemplars. Also, the list is obviously U.S.-centric. If you live in Europe or Asia, there are likely different satellites that fill the roles of these all-star orbiters.

1. Hubble Space Telescope


By taking thousands of breathtaking photos unhindered by the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere, the Hubble has brought the beauty and mystery of space to more people than any other observatory, not to mention the massive amount of scientific research accomplished with it.

2. Galaxy 14


This communications relay carries digital TV signals for much of the east coast, including ESPN, Lifetime, Sci-Fi, CNN, A&E and my personal favorite, the History Channel.

3. GOES-12


From its high-altitude geosynchronous orbit, GOES-12 keeps a constant watch on weather conditions in most of North America.

4. The Moon


Tides, werewolves, the Apollo Program: without our natural satellite, we’d have none of these things.

5. Rosetta Europe's Comet-Chasing Spacecraft


Isaac Newton should be proud with us! Every time when I remember about the dinosaurs I’m starting to think for comet exploring as something good.

6. GPS IIR11


The U.S. government’s NAVSTAR program brought global positioning abilities first to the military, then to the general public. It takes a constellation of these things for the system to work, so IIR11 is just one cog among many. Without it, there’d be no geocaching!

7. Golden Eye
An artist's concept of a Space Laser Satellite Defense System.


The device has been compared to the satellite weapon that features in the James Bond movie Golden Eye. In this an electromagnetic beam is fired from a satellite in orbit to disable electronic equipment. While the latest device cannot work on the same scale, it has the potential to disable almost any electronic device.

8. International Space Station


It’s a symbol of international cooperation and a frontier outpost in the quest to colonize space. The low orbit maintained by the ISS makes it one of the easiest satellites to spot with the naked eye.

9. NOAA 17


Unlike the GOES satellites, the NOAA satellites have asynchronous orbits, spinning around the globe to spot developing weather patterns that affect billions of people.



NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey teamed up in the 1970s to create a catalogue of Earth images shot from space. Since then, not only has the data improved with huge advances in digital photography, but numerous companies (including Google) have licensed the images for their mapping software.

The Most Important Satellites Orbiting Earth




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