Space Briefing Book:

Components of a Satellite

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

The parts of a satellite vary depending on the satellite’s function; however, there are some components commonly found on most satellites. These include:

generic diagram of a satellite

A generic diagram of a satellite. Credit: The Space Foundation

Antennas: Satellite antenna systems are used to receive and transmit signals to and from Earth.

Command and Data Handling: The operational heart of a satellite, command and control systems monitor every aspect of the satellite and receive commands from Earth for operation.

Guidance and Stabilization: Sensors monitor the satellite’s position to ensure it remains in the correct orbit and is oriented toward the correct target. If necessary, thrusters and other maneuvers allow a satellite to fine-tune its position and orientation.

Housing: Constructed from strong materials that can withstand the harsh space environment.

Power: Most satellites rely on a solar array to convert sunlight into energy.

Thermal Control: Guards satellite equipment against extreme changes in temperature.

Transponders: Uplink and downlink signals arrive and depart at different frequencies. Transponders convert uplinked frequencies to downlink frequencies and then amplify the converted transmission for sending to Earth.

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