The Upper Atmosphere and its Influence on Satellite Orbits

  • D. G. King-Hele
Part of the COSPAR-IAU-IAG/IUGG-IUTAM book series (IUTAM)


The chief variations in upper-atmosphere density are described, and it is shown how each of them affects the orbits of close Earth satellites. The main features discussed are:
  1. 1.

    the irregular variations in density dependent on solar activity, which may cause great changes in a few days, as well as a 27-day recurrence tendency;

  2. 2.

    the day-to-night and semi-annual variations in density, which cause nearly-periodic changes in orbits: for the day-to-night variation the period is usually between 2 months and 2 years, while the semi-annual effect leads to maxima of density in April and October, and minima in January and July; and

  3. 3.

    the large changes in density during a sunspot cycle, which give rise to a 10-or 11 -year recurrence tendency.


The changes in orbital inclination caused by the rotation of the atmosphere are also briefly described.


Orbital Period Solar Activity Satellite Orbit Sunspot Cycle Orbital Inclination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    CIRA 1965: COSPAR International Reference Atmosphere 1965, Amsterdam: North-Holland Publ. Co. 1965.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    King-Hele, D. G.: Theory of satellite orbits in an atmosphere, London: Butterworths 1964.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cook, G. E., King-Hele, D. G.: Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. 259 (1965) 33–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jacchia, L. G.: Smithsonian Astrophys. Obs. Spec. Rpt. (1969).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    King-Hele, D. G., Quinn, E.: Journ. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 27 (1965) 197–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    King-Hele, D. G., Quinn, E.: Planet Space Sci. 14 (1966) 1023–1033.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jacchia, L. G., Slowey, J.: Smithsonian Astrophys. Obs. Spec. Rpt. No. 125 (1963).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    King-Hele, D. G., Hingston, J.: Planet Space Sci. 16 (1968) 675–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Roemer, M.: Space Research VII, pp. 1091–1099; Amsterdam: North-Holland Publ. Co. 1967.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cook, G. E.: Planet Space Sci. 16 (1968) 1161–1176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    King-Hele, D. G., Walker, D. M. C: Planet Space Sci. 17 (1969) 197–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Roemer, M.: Forschungsber. d. Astronom. Inst. Bonn No. 68-08 (1968).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cook, G. E.: The semi-annual variation in the upper atmosphere during 1967 and 1968. R.A.E. Technical Report 69254, 1969.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jacchia, L. G.: Space Research II, pp. 747–750, Amsterdam: North-Holland Publ. Co. 1961.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    King-Hele, D.G., Walker, D.M.C: Planet. Space Sci. 17 (1969) 1539–1566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Paetzold, H. K., Zschorner, H.: Space Research II, pp. 958–973. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publ. Co. 1961.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cook, G. E., Scott, D. W.: Planet-Space Sci. 15 (1967) 1933–1956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jacchia, L. G., Slowey, J. W., Campbell, I. G.: Planet. Space Sci. 17 (1969) 49-6O.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Cook, G. E.: The Semi-annual Variation in the Upper-Atmosphere: A Review. Annales de Géophys., 25 (1969) 451–469.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Harris, I., Priester, W.: Space Research III, pp. 53–75, Amsterdam: North-Holland 1963.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Marov, M. YA.: Kosmicheskie Issledovaniya 6 (1968) 110–118.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Jacchia, L. G., Slowey, J.: Planet Space Sci. 16 (1968) 509–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    King-Hele, D. G., Walker, D. M. C.: Space Research II, pp. 918–957, Amsterdam: North-Holland 1961.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    King-Hele, D. G., Scott, D. W.: Planet Space Sci. 15 (1967) 1913–1931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Marov, M. YA.: Space Research X (to be published).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. G. King-Hele
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Aircraft EstablishmentFarnborough, HantsEngland

Personalised recommendations