The Inclination Window for Low Earth Sun Synchronized Satellite Orbits
Keywords:LEO, Satellite, Inclination, Sun-synchronization
LEO (Low Earth Orbit) environmental satellites provide continuous coverage of Earth, supplying meteorological and oceanic observation data which are important in aerospace and maritime. The missions of such satellites are mainly based on photo imagery. For photo imagery, it is also important that the area observed from the satellite is treated under the same lighting conditions. This can be achieved by keeping the orbital plane position constant relative to the Sun due to the Earth’s motion around the Sun, defined as orbital Sun synchronization. The line of nodes defines the orientation of the satellite’s orbital plane in space. Nodal regression is defined as the shift of the orbit’s line of nodes over time, as Earth revolves around the Sun. Nodal regression is caused by the Earth’s oblateness. Nodal regression is a very useful feature, especially used to synchronize low Earth circular orbits with the Sun. Nodal regression depends on orbital attitude and orbital inclination angle. This paper provides an inclination window calculation for different attitudes in order to maintain orbital Sun synchronization.