What is a Satellite?

Satellites are launched from Earth on powerful rockets. Some satellites circle the Earth several times a day but some seem to float over the planet in the same place.

A satellite is an object that moves around a larger object. Earth is a satellite because it moves around the sun. The moon is a satellite because it moves around Earth. Earth and the moon are called “natural” satellites.

But usually when someone says “satellite,” they are talking about a “man-made” satellite. Man-made satellites are machines made by people. These machines are launched into space and orbit Earth or another body in space.

There are thousands of man-made satellites. Some take pictures of our planet. Some take pictures of other planets, the sun and other objects. These pictures help scientists learn about Earth, the solar system and the universe. Other satellites send TV signals and phone calls around the world.