Scientists Say: Satellite

This word can refer to more than a spying spacecraft

Our moon is one example of a satellite, an object that orbits another, larger body in space.

Our moon is one example of a satellite, an object that orbits another, larger body in space.


Satellite (noun, “SAT-eh-lyte”)

An object that orbits a large body in space, such as Earth, the moon or a planet. These can be artificial objects that we send up from Earth, or they can be natural. The moon, for example, is a satellite.

In a sentence

Four of the satellites orbiting around Pluto may have come from something big that long ago crashed into the dwarf planet.

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Power Words

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celestial  (in astronomy) Of or relating to the sky, or outer space.

celestial object  Anynaturally formed objects of substantial size in space. Examples include comets, asteroids, planets, moons, stars and galaxies.

moon  The natural satellite of any planet.

orbit  The curved path of a celestial object or spacecraft around a star, planet or moon. One complete circuit around a celestial body.

Pluto  A dwarf planet that is located in the Kuiper Belt, just beyond Neptune. Pluto is the tenth largest object orbiting the sun.

satellite     A moon orbiting a planet or a vehicle or other manufactured object that orbits some celestial body in space.

satellite array A constellation or group of human-made bodies that are placed in orbit around the earth, moon or another planet. They collect information or for communication.

Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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