Curved Appearance of a Rocket Trajectory

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Rocket launches have a curved trajectory because their objective is not only to reach space but also to enter Earth orbit. To achieve it, a spacecraft needs to gain a sufficient horizontal speed, parallel to Earth’s surface.

Flat-Earthers claim the curved appearance of a rocket launch trajectory “proves” rockets never reach space. In reality, it is caused by the motion of the rocket parallel to Earth’s surface, perspective effect, and the curvature of the Earth.

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Fiber-Optic vs Satellite Communication

Fiber-optic communication is a method of transmitting data by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. These days, the majority of data communication involves a fiber-optic connection. However, other methods of transmitting data exist, including satellites.

Flat-Earthers use the prominence of fiber-optic communication as “proof” of the nonexistence of satellites. Such reasoning is a fallacy of hasty generalization. By the same “logic,” we can “prove” trains do not exist just by showing the existence of cars.

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Geostationary Satellites

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If a satellite is placed in an orbit 35786 km above the equator, it will be in motion at the same speed as the Earth’s rotation. As a result, the satellite will appear practically motionless from an observer on Earth’s surface. Many communication satellites are in this orbit so that a satellite receiver does not need to track the satellite continuously.

Flat-Earthers often take the fact that satellites are in motion, and most satellite dishes have a fixed direction as ‘proof’ the receivers cannot be pointing to satellites. In reality, it is possible to place a satellite in a geostationary orbit to make it appear in a fixed position in the sky relative to an observer on Earth.

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Satellite Phones and Cellular Phones

Cellular phones communicate with cell base stations, and cannot work without cell base stations nearby. On the other hand, satellite phones communicate with satellites and will work in remote locations as long as there is a line of sight to the satellites.

Cellular phones do not function in a remote location, and flat-Earthers use the fact as “proof” that satellites do not exist. In reality, nobody claimed that cellular phones communicate with satellites. The phones that communicate with satellites are called satellite phones, and they still function in a remote location.

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Google Maps Live Traffic and Simon Weckert’s Virtual Traffic Jam

Google Maps live traffic works by crowdsourcing. It determines the current traffic by aggregating information sent by many phones carried by many different traveling users.

In February 2020, artist Simon Weckert successfully gamed the system and faked a traffic jam in Google Maps. He did that by pulling a cart full of active phones and walking in the middle of roads. Google Maps system thought there were many slow-moving cars on the road and regarded that as a traffic jam. As a result, during Simon’s operation, an empty road appeared as dark red in Google Maps, as if a traffic jam was ongoing.

Flat-Earthers claimed that it proves that satellites do not exist; possibly because they did not know how the system works. It might be that they previously thought the traffic data was obtained directly from satellite imagery. In reality, satellite navigation systems, like the GPS, is very much involved in the system.

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Radio Propagation

Radio propagation is the behavior of radio waves as they travel from one point to another. As a form of electromagnetic radiation, radio waves are affected by reflection, refraction, diffraction, absorption, polarization, and scattering.

Flat-Earthers assume all radio waves are identical. They invented various “explanations” with the erroneous assumption. In reality, radio waves with different frequencies have different properties and different ways of propagation.

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Visualization of Satellites and Space Debris

Various pictures showing satellites and space debris around the Earth are visualizations. They are not real photos taken from cameras. These visualizations were created by drawing the objects with sizes far larger than their actual dimensions. If they were drawn to scale, then they all will be too small and cannot be seen in the visualizations.

Flat-Earthers fail to realize that these are visualizations. They think the pictures are presented as real photos. Because we never see satellites like that, they concluded that it was a deception. In reality, these pictures are simply visualization, not actual photos.

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How GPS and Other Satellite Navigation System Work

A satellite navigation or satnav system is a system that uses satellites to provide autonomous geo-spatial positioning. Several satellites continuously transmit signals containing their positions and the time when the signal was sent. Receiver units listen to the signals and use the information to calculate their positions.

Flat-Earthers assume that if GPS satellites are used to determine positions, then they should be able to pinpoint the position of a receiver. They are wrong. GPS satellites only transmit signals but never receive signals from the receivers. It is impossible for the satellites to determine the position of a receiver.

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Balloon Satellites

In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. A few of these satellites are balloon satellites. They are satellites that are inflated with gas after they have been put into orbit. There are also other human-made objects which are also called satellites, only placed in a much lower altitude, and with a very different operating method. These are actually regular high altitude balloon, but providing services traditionally provided by orbiting satellites.

Flat-Earthers deny the existence of satellites, and after they discovered the existence of balloon satellites, they started to use the fact as “proof” that orbiting satellites do not exist. It is the fallacy of hasty generalization. Using the same “logic” they are using, we can use the existence of trucks to “prove” buses don’t exist.

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White Alice and the Troposcatter Propagation

Troposcatter is a signal propagation method using the scattering phenomenon in the upper troposphere. As the signal pass through the upper troposphere, some of the energy is scattered back toward Earth, allowing the receiver station at the correct location to pick up the signal.

White Alice is a decommissioned troposcatter network in North America. Some flat-Earthers invented the “explanation” that the various satellite-based services we enjoy today are using White Alice. They are wrong. White Alice and other troposcatter networks cannot possibly replace all the services provided by satellites.

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The Varying Continent Sizes in Different Images of Earth from Space

The amount of Earth’s surface we can see at once from a location in space depends on our distance to the Earth. The closer the observer, the smaller the amount of visible Earth’s surface. Conversely, the farther the observer, the larger the amount of Earth’s surface visible to them. But no matter how far the observer, they would not be able to see the entire hemisphere.

Flat-Earthers discovered that there are the differences in the sizes of continents in the different images of the Earth, and used the fact as ‘evidence’ of misconduct. They are wrong. Such differences in continent sizes are present because the images show the Earth from different distances and different field of view.

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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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Observing the ISS from ISS Transits

Flat-Earthers reject the existence of satellites. They are wrong. To prove the existence satellites, we can attempt to take pictures of the ISS when an ISS transit happens, or the ISS passes in front of the Sun or the Moon.

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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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How Satellites Can Orbit and Stay Up There

If Earth’s gravity pulls everything towards the Earth, then how can satellites stay up there and are not falling towards the Earth?

The answer is that satellites orbit the Earth. They have the correct velocity with respect to Earth’s position and gravitational pull.

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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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Cellular Network vs. Satellite Communications

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

The logic is that if using a satellite can get you a vast 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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The MH370 Disaster and the Inability of the GPS System to Locate It

The GPS system is one-way. The satellites broadcast signals. GPS devices receive and process the signals to determine their location.

Flat-Earthers often point out the fact we were unable to locate the ill-fated MH370 as ‘evidence’ GPS doesn’t work and therefore doesn’t exist. They are wrong. GPS satellites never receive any signal from GPS devices, and it is not possible for them to locate MH370.

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Why Don’t We See Satellites in Photos Taken From The ISS?

“Why don’t we see satellites in photos taken from the ISS?” (or from space in general). That’s a recurring question within the flat-Earth community, usually asked without expecting an answer, assuming that an answer is impossible, and that it is a glaring oversight when the powers that be purposefully made the picture using CGI.

But no, the pictures are real. And satellites are not visible because they are too far spaced apart from each other.

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