Orbital Station-Keeping

A satellite in a high enough orbit can remain operational for a very long time because in space there is practically no air resistance. This is a situation that never occurs in our everyday life. A car requires a constant consumption of fuel to keep running, but a satellite can remain in motion without consuming any fuel because there’s practically no force stopping it.

Flat-Earthers claim that satellites cannot stay up there for such a very long time because ‘we never refuel any satellites.’ They are wrong. In space, there is practically no drag, and satellites only need to consume fuel to adjust their speed periodically.

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Rockets and the Lack of Oxygen in Space

Most combustion engines work with oxygen from Earth’s atmosphere as its oxidizing agent in the combustion process. But in the case of rockets, there’s no oxygen in space. It would have to bring the oxidizer in addition to its fuel or use monopropellant which doesn’t require an oxidizer.

Flat-Earthers claim rockets should not be able to work in space because there’s no oxygen in space. They are wrong. The lack of oxygen in space is merely an engineering problem which is not impossible to solve. Rockets are engineered to carry its oxidizer or utilize monopropellant which does not require an oxidizer.

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Drag

Drag is a force acting opposite to the relative motion of an object moving with respect to a surrounding fluid. The higher the density of the fluid, the higher the magnitude of the drag.

Flat-Earthers claim that it is impossible for satellites to have such high speed. Usually, they would compare the speed of satellites to something like the SR-71 Blackbird, which holds the record as the fastest aircraft. They are wrong. At the altitude where satellites reside, the air density is several magnitudes smaller compared to near the surface, and thus, the drag experienced by satellites is also several magnitude smaller.

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Satellite Watching

It is not hard to spot satellites. Satellites can easily be seen under the following conditions:

  1. They are easier to see the larger and the closer they are.
  2. The darker the sky, the easier to see them.
  3. Satellites are visible only when they are lit by the sunlight.

Because of these conditions, satellites are usually seen a few hours after sunset or a few hours before sunrise.

Flat-Earthers claim that satellites can never be seen, and the fact is evidence that “satellites don’t exist”. They are wrong. Satellites can easily be seen under the right conditions.

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Galilean Moons: The First Objects Observed to Orbit Another Object

Jupiter possesses four large moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. These are called the Galilean Moons. They are easy to observe and the first objects found to orbit a planet other than the Earth.

Flat-Earthers are often seen demanding proof that an object can orbit another object. All they have to do is to use a telescope to observe Jupiter and its Galilean moons.

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Geostationary Satellites

A satellite can be placed in an orbit 35786 km above Earth’s surface, and the satellite will be in motion at the same speed as the rotation of the Earth. As a result, the satellite will appear practically motionless when observed from the surface.  Many communication satellites are placed in this orbit, and a satellite dish receiving signals from the satellite doesn’t have to track the satellite.

Flat-Earthers often take the fact that satellites are in motion and most satellite dishes have a fixed direction as ‘proof’ there’s something suspicious about satellites. They are wrong.

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Iridium Flare

Iridium is a satellite constellation consisting of 66 satellites. It provides satellite phone services over the entire Earth surface. The first generation satellites have three door-sized reflective antennas. Because of their reflectivity, Iridium satellites will occasionally reflect sunlight to Earth’s surface. The Iridium flare will look like a bright flash over a few seconds.

Most flat-Earthers deny the existence of satellites. Iridium flares provide an easy opportunity to confirm the existence of satellites, at least until the end of 2018, when they are replaced by newer non-reflecting satellites.

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Celullar Network vs. Satellite Communications

“If satellites really exist, then why would mobile phone operators bother to install transceivers everywhere?” Flat-Earthers ask this question a lot.

Their logic is that if using a satellite can get you a huge coverage area, then spending a lot of money and effort to install towers everywhere does not make any sense. Usually, they would follow-up and conclude that “satellites don’t exist”.

They are wrong. Satellites do exist, and there are good reasons why mobile phone communication utilizes cellular architecture.

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