Orbital Speed and Period of a Satellite

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Kepler's third law relates the period and the radius of objects in orbit around a star or planet. In conjunction with Newton's law of universal gravitation, giving the attractive force between two masses, we can find the speed and period of an artificial satellite in orbit around the Earth. Consideration is limited to circular orbits.

Contributed by: Enrique Zeleny (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



The speed of a satellite is given by

and the period is


where is the distance from the center of the Earth (Earth's radius + altitude ), is the gravitational constant, and is the mass of the Earth.

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