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Uploaded:2018-01-16
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You might not know it, but there are thousands of human-made satellites orbiting the Earth! They help us do everything from study the climate to make phone calls, and there are even some satellites that people can live on!
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SOURCES:
https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-a-satellite-k4.html
https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/solarsystem/moons
https://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/
http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-weapons/space-weapons/what-are-satellites-used-for#bf-toc-5
https://www.livescience.com/39678-incredible-tech-track-hurricanes.html
https://www.space.com/24839-satellites.html
https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-the-iss-k4.html
Hey Squeaks, what are you looking at? [Squeaks squeaks] Oh!

It looks like Squeaks noticed an interesting light moving across the night sky, and he’s trying to figure out what it is! You know, I don’t think that’s a meteor and I don't think it's an airplane either.

It’s moving very steadily in a straight line across the sky, and it’s not twinkling or blinking. That means it’s probably a satellite! A satellite is something that orbits, or goes around, a planet or a star, and there are lots of different types.

Some natural things are satellites — like the Moon, because it goes around the Earth. But usually, when people talk about satellites they mean the ones that were made by people and launched into space. They’re sort of like spaceships moving around the Earth, and they’re usually made up of a computer, along with solar panels to get power from the Sun.

Sometimes they also have cameras or other scientific tools to help gather information. People sent our very first satellite into space in the year 1957. It was called Sputnik, and it was only about the size of a beach ball!

These days, there are more than 2000 satellites up there! [Squeaks squeaks] I know! It’s hard to even imagine so many things moving around the planet at the same time! But they have all kinds of different jobs.

Some scientists use satellites to help us study the Earth. For example, they can take pictures or collect data about the Earth’s surface. That way, scientists can learn more about things like the temperature of the oceans and see what’s happening to the glaciers and other types of ice all over the world.

Satellites can also monitor the weather, which meteorologists, the scientists who study the weather, use to learn about big storms like hurricanes. But scientists aren’t the only people who use satellites. Turns out that you and me, and even Squeaks benefit from using satellites all the time!

Whenever you use the map on a phone or in a car to go somewhere, it’s using satellites in space to figure out where you are so it can tell you where to go! Some types of TVs and phones also use satellites, because sometimes it can be easier to send information to far away places on Earth if you use a satellite as the messenger. With satellite TV, for example, the signals from all the channels get sent to a satellite, which then sends the signals back down to lots of people’s houses — and their TVs!

The biggest satellite orbiting our planet is the International Space Station. It’s as big as a football or soccer field, and people actually live on it! There are usually six astronauts on the space station at a time, and most of them stay there for about six months.

When they’re floating around on the space station, they can do all kinds of cool science experiments that they couldn’t do here on Earth! And Squeaks, I think that’s what you saw moving across the sky — the International Space Station! You can usually see the space station on a clear night if it’s flying over where you live not too long after the sun goes down.

It’ll look like a little point of light moving in a steady, straight line all the way across the sky, with no blinking lights. Which is exactly what Squeaks saw! I don’t know about you, Squeaks, but I’m definitely going to be thinking about satellites the next time I hear the weather report.

And we should keep a lookout to see if we can spot the space station again the next time it goes zooming by! Thanks for joining us! If you want to keep learning and having fun with Squeaks and me, hit the subscribe button, and we’ll see you next time here at the Fort!