What is the significance of the geostationary orbit? What would happen if it becomes too crowded?. (250 Words)

A geostationary orbit is one in which a satellite orbits the earth at exactly the same speed as the earth turns and at the same latitude, specifically zero, the latitude of the equator. A satellite orbiting in a geostationary orbit appears to be hovering in the same spot in the sky, and is directly over the same patch of ground at all times.

         The advantage of a satellite in a geostationary orbit is that it remains stationary relative to the earth’s surface. This makes it an ideal orbit for communications since it will not be necessary to track the satellite to determine where to point an antenna. However, there are some disadvantages. Perhaps the first is the long distance between the satellite and the ground. With sufficient power or a large enough antenna, though, this limitation can be overcome.

Overcrowding of Geo-Stationary orbit

Overcrowding is a problem plaguing outer space. The geostationary orbit often described as a “real estate of the final frontier” is experiencing near-total congestion. Located 36,000-kms above equator, the orbit is an ideal “space slot” for positioning communications satellites. From here, a communications’ spacecraft can provide round the clock coverage.

Conventionally satellites have been given two degrees of separation, which means only 180 satellites could be parked in the orbit. The satellites parked in the orbit could collide if the orbit becomes too crowded. Although there are many Geo stationary orbits on the plane of the earth, specifically very few are being crowded heavily due to its locational importance. If these orbits get more crowded, it will result into frequency interferences between satellites and they will cause destruction of signals. The efficiency of communication will be affected.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) regulates the GEO usage. Although a monopoly or oligopoly should not be possible with a common property resource, technology gaps have given certain nations domination over the GEO.

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