If the mass of a satellite orbiting the earth were to increase, what would happen to that satellite?

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Apr 20, 2016


Increasing the mass of a satellite would have very little effect as long as it isn't too massive.


When a satellite orbits the Earth what actually happens is that the satellite and the Earth orbit around their centre of mass. As satellites have a very small mass compared to the Earth, the mass of the satellite can effective;y be ignored when calculating the orbit.

Only is the satellite has a mass which is significant compared to the Earth would the effect be noticed. As the Moon has a significant mass compared to the Earth, the Earth and Moon both orbit about their centre of mass which is called the Earth-Moon barycentre. It lies about 1,600km below the Earth's surface.

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