Separating geosynchronous satellites

Have a question about using Celestia? Check here first for FAQs and helpful advice.
Forum rules
Please help to make this forum more useful by checking the FAQs before posting! Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic, be responsible, share your knowledge.
Topic author
Posts: 3
Joined: 10.10.2016
With us: 2 years 11 months

Separating geosynchronous satellites

Post #1by robulous » 10.10.2016, 15:08

I'm a Celestia noob (or rather, returning after many years) developing a scifi mod with a planet that has four geosynchronous satellites in equally spaced equatorial orbits.

I've got the objects in my SSC (largely I copied the text from the mod listing satellites orbiting Earth), and I've adjusted so their orbit is correct - but how do I space them out? Essentially I want them in geosynchronous orbits at 0, 90, 180 and 270 degrees of longitude. I think it's to do with the ArgOfPericenter or MeanAnomaly parameters but this is a bit beyond me. Sidereal orbit of the planet is 22 hours.

I have a similar problem with getting binary planets to behave - I have the orbits, but they aren't in the right places in their orbit.

Any suggestions?

FarGetaNik M
Posts: 444
Joined: 05.06.2012
With us: 7 years 3 months
Location: Germany

Post #2by FarGetaNik » 13.10.2016, 08:41

There are several ways to do this, assuming the orbits are nearly circular and uninclined. AscendingNode, ArgOfPericenter and MeanAnomaly are angles which orientate the orbit around a central object and you could use every one of them to assign values of 0, 90, 180 and 270°. If you are interested in what these angles define, read: or some definition on Wikipedia. It alsways helps to create a cluster of satellites and vary one element at a time to see what they really do (this will only become obvious if you do this with eccentric, inclined orbits).

In your case for the satellites I'd recommend to use the same orbital elements for all of them and distribute them by varying only MeanAnomaly. For binary objects it's always good to take a look at an example within Celestia to see that you need to shift "ArgOfPericenter" by 180° for one of the objects.

Posts: 458
Joined: 17.09.2008
With us: 10 years 11 months
Location: Paris France

Post #3by jogad » 14.10.2016, 19:21

For a geostationary orbit, the simplest is to define the orbit with a fixed position relative to the planet.

To do this you must define
- A reference frame centered on the planet
- A fixed position indicating longitude, latitude and altitude of the satellite.

The corresponding instructions in the ssc file are:

Code: Select all

OrbitFrame {BodyFixed{ Center "your_star/your_planet"}}
FixedPosition{ Planetographic [longitude latitude altitude] }

There is only one geostationary orbit for a planet.
As it is in the plane of the equator, the latitude is 0
You can specify the longitude you want.

As the geostationary orbit is circular the altitude is constant.
Celestia lets you enter any altitude you want, but to be coherent with gravity, altitude depends on the mass of the planet.

It can be calculated with the following formula:


h = altitude (in meters)
G = gravitational constant = 6.67 10^-11 N.m?.kg
M = mass of the planet (in kg)
R = planet radius (in meters)
T = sideral rotation period of the planet (in seconds)

Altitude must be in km in the ssc file.
Pay attention to units in the formula.

Return to “Help Central”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: 4 guests