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ECE 5233 Satellite Communications

Prepared by:
Dr. Ivica Kostanic
Lecture 2: Orbital Mechanics
(Section 2.1)

Spring 2014

Keplers laws of planetary / satellite motion

Equation of satellite orbits
Describing the orbit of a satellite
Locating the satellite in the orbit

Important note: Slides present summary of the results. Detailed derivations

are given in notes.

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Keplers laws of planetary motion
Johannes Kepler published laws of planetary motion in solar system in early 17 th century
Laws explained extensive astronomical planetary measurements performed by Tycho Brahe
Keplers laws were proved by Newtons theory of gravity in mid 18 th century
Keplers laws approximate motion of satellites around Earth

Keplers laws (as applicable to satellite motion)

1. The orbit of a satellite is an ellipse with the Earth at one of the two foci
2. A line joining a satellite and the Earths center sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time
3. The square of the orbital period of a satellite is directly proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its

1. r
1 e cos
2. r const

3. 3

Illustration of Keplers law Florida Institute of

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Derivation of satellite orbit (1)
Based on Newtons theory of gravity and laws of motion
Satellite moves in a plane that contains Earths origin
Acting force is gravity
Mass of Earth is much larger than the mass of a satellite

Gravitational force on the satellite

GM E mr
Newtons 2nd law Constants

d 2r G 6.672 10 11 Nm2 /kg 2

F ma m 2
dt M E 5.98 10 24 kg
Combining the two 3.983 105 km 3 /s 2

d 2r r
3 0
dt r
Satellite in Earths orbit Differential equation that determines the orbit
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Derivation of satellite orbit (2)
Solution of the motion differential equation gives trajectory
in the form of an ellipse
p e=0.2
1 e cos 0 e=0

e eccentrici ty

h angular moment

Coordinate system rotated so that the satellite plane is the

same as (X0,Y0) plane p = 1;
e = 0.2
Not all values for eccentricity give stable orbits fi = 0:0.01:2*pi;
Eccentricity in interval (0,1) gives stable elliptical orbit r = p./(1+cos(fi));
Eccentricity of 0 gives circular orbit
Eccentricity = 1, parabolic orbit, the satellite escapes the
gravitational pull of the Earth
Eccentricity > 1, hyperbolic orbit, the satellite escapes
gravitational pull of the Earth
Note: Detailed derivations of the satellite
trajectory are given in the notes
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Describing the orbit of a satellite (1)

E and F are focal points of the ellipse

Earth is one of the focal points (say E)
a major semi axis
b minor semi axis
Perigee point when the satellite is closest to
Apogee point when the satellite is furthest
from Earth
The parameters of the orbit are related
Five important results:
1. Relationship between a and p
2. Relationship between b and p
r0 Elliptic trajectory 3. Relationship between eccentricity,
1 e cos 0 cylindrical coordinates perigee and apogee distances
4. 2nd Keplers law
Basic relationship of 5. 3rd Keplers law
ES FS 2a

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Describing the orbit of a satellite (2)
r0 2. Relationship between b and p
1 e cos 0
Consider point P: FP+EP=2a
Since FP=EP , EP=a
From triangle CEP

b a e a 1 e p2 p2
2 2 2 2 2

1 e
2 2 1 e2
p h2 /
b ; b a 1 e2
1 e2 1 e2

1. Relationship between a and p 3. Relationship between eccentricity, perigee and apogee distances

2a r0 0 0 r0 0 EB
rp ; EA
1 e 1 e
p p 2p

1 e 1 e 1 e2 ra rp
p h /2
ra rp
1 e2 1 e2

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Describing the orbit of a satellite (3)

4. 2nd Keplers law The area swept by radius vector

1 1
dA r0 ds sin r0 , ds r0 v dt sin r0 , ds
2 2
1 1 dr 1
r0 v dt r0 0 dt hdt
2 2 dt 2
dA 1
h const
dt 2

5. 3nd Keplers law

1 T

4 2 a 2 a 2 1 e 2 4 2 a 3 4 2 3
p 2 a
dA h dt h 2
h 2
h / p
Integrating both sides 4 2 3
ab hdt hT
20 2 T 2 ~ a3
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Locating the satellite in the orbit (1)

Known: time at the perigee tp

Determine: location of the satellite at arbitrary time t>tp


S satellite
O center of the Earth
C center of the ellipse and corresponding circle

r0 - distance between satellite and center of the Earth

0 - true anomaly
E - eccentric anomaly

2 1/ 2
A circle is drawn so that it 3/ 2 - average angular velocity
encompasses the satellites T a
M t t p
elliptical trajectory
- mean anomaly

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Locating the satellite in the orbit (2)

Algorithm summary:

1. Calculate average angular velocity: 1/ 2

/ a 3/ 2

2. Calculate mean anomaly: M t t p

3. Solver for eccentric anomaly: M E e sin E

r0 a1 e cos E ; 0 cos

a 1 e 2 r0
4. Find polar coordinates:
er 0
x0 r0 cos 0 ; y0 r0 sin 0
5. Find rectangular coordinates
Detailed derivations provided in the notes
In 3, solution is determined numerically
In 4, equation for true anomaly gives two values. One of them needs to be
eliminated Page 10
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Example 2.1.1. Geostationary orbit radius

Example 2.1.2 Low earth orbit
Example 2.1.3 Elliptical orbit
Example C1. Location of satellite in the orbit

Note: Examples are worked out in notes

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