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Geostationary Orbit. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE. NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION. 36,000 km (16 feet from SOS). Polar Orbit. 715 km (4 inches from SOS). Geostationary Orbit. Polar Orbit.

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Geostationary Orbit

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

36,000 km (16 feet from SOS)

Polar Orbit

715 km

(4 inches from SOS)

Geostationary Orbit

Polar Orbit

Geostationary satellites orbit the Earth's axis as fast as the Earth spins. They hover over a single point above the Earth at an altitude of about 36,000 kilometers (22,300 miles). This orbit allows these satellites to continuously look at the same spot on the earth – important for locating the position of hurricanes and monitoring developing severe storms.

NOAA typically operates two geostationary satellites called GOES (Geostationary Operational Environment Satellite). One has a good view of the East Coast (GOES-East) while the other focuses on the West Coast (GOES-West).

Polar satellites (also know as sun synchronous satellites) orbit above the Earth at about 715 kilometers (445 miles). Polar satellites monitor strong storms that move across the poles (regions of the Earth that Geostationary satellites cannot view).

NOAA typically operates two polar satellites. One satellite views the afternoon portion of the Earth, while the other views the morning portion of the Earth.