Let’s learn about satellites

Whether natural or artificial, satellites hold plenty of fascination

Hubble Space Telescope

This satellite is the Hubble Space Telescope. It captures images of objects deep in space.


A satellite is an object that orbits a planet. The moon is a natural satellite. So are the 82 known moons of Saturn. But there are also artificial satellites. These objects do lots of different jobs for people on Earth. They beam television signals from one side of the country to the other. They’re what lets the global position system (GPS) help you navigate. They monitor our planet. And they look out into deep space. 

Want to know more? We’ve got some stories to get you started.

R.I.P. Kepler, the planet-hunting telescope: Over 9 ½ years, this satellite discovered 2,720 exoplanets. (11/1/2018) Readability: 7

ICESat-2 measures ice and more from space: This orbiting probe is monitoring Earth’s frozen water — with lasers. (1/31/2019) Readability: 7.1

To monitor penguin diet from satellites, look to penguin poop: Images from Landsat satellites are being used to monitor penguin populations in Antarctica. (1/23/2019) Readability: 7.4

Explore more

Scientists Say: Satellite

Explainer: What is a planet? 

Explainer: What are lidar, radar and sonar?

Could humans build a tall tower or giant rope to space? (Technically Fiction)

Word find

Build your own satellite: NASA provides instructions for building a spacecraft with edible or inedible ingredients you can find at home. (We’d love to see your builds. Send a picture to sns@sciencenews.org.) 

From Science News: New fleets of private satellites are clogging the night sky

Sarah Zielinski is the Editor, Print at Science News Explores. She has degrees in biology and journalism and likes to write about ecology, plants and animals. She has three cats: Oscar, Saffir and Alani.

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