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Showing posts from March 27, 2014

MORE THAN 1,000 SATELLITES ARE FLYING OVERHEAD

By MALCOLM RITTER— 



Mar. 27, 2014 5:10 PM EDT




NEW YORK (AP) — The spotting of ocean debris by satellites during the search for the lost Malaysian airliner has drawn attention to those orbiting platforms. 





A primer on what's in orbit, with help from Nicholas Johnson, who retired Thursday as NASA's chief scientist for orbital debris:






HOW MANY SATELLITES ARE UP THERE?



About 1,100 active satellites, both government and private. Plus there are about 2,600 ones that no longer work. Russia launched the first satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957. The oldest one still in orbit, which is no longer functioning, was launched in 1958.





HOW BIG ARE THEY?


Size varies. Communication satellites can be as big as a small school bus and weigh up to 6 tons, the Federal Communications Commission says. Most weigh a few tons or less. Some that are used briefly are 4 inch cubes and weigh about 2 pounds.






WHAT EXACTLY DO THEY DO?




They have a wide variety of roles: GPS satellites aid navigation, others relay telephone or…