Please Explain: Satellites

Friday, April 06, 2012

For this week's Please Explain, Jonathan McDowell, astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Boston, and Laura Grego, senior scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, tell us how satellites are designed, launched, and how they to make things like GPS and cable television possible. 


Laura Grego and Jonathan McDowell

Comments [10]

John A.

How much fuel would it take to move congress into a higher orbit, away from earth? Happy Holidays.

Apr. 06 2012 01:57 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Thanks for taking my question. I guess the next question is whether climate disruption *will* rise higher on the political agenda in time, esp. in the US.

I was also wondering which technology is used to measure carbon/CO2 in the atmosphere.

Apr. 06 2012 01:56 PM

Awesome show today Lenny!

Apr. 06 2012 01:44 PM
Amy from Manhattan

What's the current role of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space?

And can a link be added on this page to the site Jonathan McDowell mentioned that shows the positions of satellites?

Apr. 06 2012 01:42 PM
Amy from Manhattan

On how to recognize different kinds of satellites, does a weather- or climate-monitoring satellite have a large telescope, like the military & spy satellites that Laura Grego described, or does it use some other kind of instrument?

Apr. 06 2012 01:37 PM
Ken Henriksen from Massapequa

Stellarium is a free program for the PC that tracks stars AND satellites.

Apr. 06 2012 01:36 PM
moshe sayer from UWS

if the satellites have boosters can't they be used to 'push' them into space away from earth forever?

Apr. 06 2012 01:29 PM
AJ from Brooklyn NY

How much redundancy is there among these satellites that are so critical to earth systems that we take for granted? Are we vulneralbe to catastrophic failure in communication, or other systems or could a single failure trigger cascading failures?

Apr. 06 2012 01:26 PM
John A.

I assume that there are tight international laws preventing keeping a nuclear bomb up in orbit "ready to go"?
Is there effort to make countries that launch satellites also responsible for cleaning up their space junk when they die - this is an increasing problem.

Apr. 06 2012 01:25 PM
jaime from ellenville,ny

It should be less about seeking forgiveness and more about atonement for our actions throughout the year

Apr. 06 2012 11:55 AM

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