What keeps satellites from falling out of the sky? The Hubble Space Telescope in orbit above Earth. (Thinkstock)
What keeps satellites from falling out of the sky?
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You asked us a question. "What keeps satellites from falling out of the sky?"
 
More than 2,500 satellites have followed the first one into space. This has happened over the last half-century. What keeps them all up?  It is a careful balance between a satellite's speed and the pull of gravity.
 
Satellites are pretty much always falling. Crazy, right?
 
They fall at the same rate that the curve of the Earth falls away from them. That is if they are moving at the right speed. This means instead of racing farther out into space or spiraling down to Earth, they hang out in orbit around the planet.
 
Changes are often needed. They keep a satellite on the straight and narrow.
 
Earth's gravity is stronger is some places than others.  Satellites can get pulled around by the sun and the moon.  And even the planet Jupiter.
 
Gravity seems to be enough to deal with. But, satellites in low earth orbit can also get pulled out of their orbit by drag from the atmosphere.  The Hubble Space Telescope is one of these satellites. 
 
This does not even include the endless game of Frogger that satellites have to play.  That is so they can avoid space junk and other high flyers.
 
Heads up!

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did the author say satellites need to stay on the “straight and narrow” when satellites actually need to follow the curve of the Earth?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (46)
  • durhamb-rob
    11/19/2015 - 09:42 a.m.

    she meant they should stay up in the air instead of falling all down.

  • arellanojo-rob
    11/19/2015 - 09:42 a.m.

    The author says satellites need to stay "straight and narrow" beacusethey are saying that it needs to be in a right position so it can go around.

  • dukeo-rob
    11/19/2015 - 09:42 a.m.

    it changes when it needs to

  • arellanojo-rob
    11/19/2015 - 09:43 a.m.

    The author say satellites need to stay on the "straight and narrow" because that keeps it from falling.

  • gibsonn-rob
    11/19/2015 - 09:44 a.m.

    the auther said that because if the satalight did not stay on the right paththan it would get lost in space or crash into the earth.

  • baileyj-rob
    11/19/2015 - 09:45 a.m.

    That means that the satellites need adjustments sometimes so that they do what they are supposed to and don't face the wrong way.

  • aderholdm-rob
    11/19/2015 - 09:46 a.m.

    This just means that the satellites need changes or adjustments so they stay in orbit.

  • clayr-rob
    11/19/2015 - 09:46 a.m.

    I think so the satellites don't fall on earth.

  • jamesj1-rob
    11/19/2015 - 09:48 a.m.

    they say that because earths gravity is stronger in different place.

  • garcianavaw-rob
    11/19/2015 - 09:49 a.m.

    The satellites stay up because they need to go on the ribght speed and the gravity has to be good in order for it to stay up and if its not then it will fall .

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