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Medium Earth orbit

2017-06-01

  Medium Earth orbit (MEO), sometimes called intermediate circular orbit (ICO), is the region of space around the Earth above low Earth orbit (altitude of 2,000 kilometres (1,243 mi)) and belowgeostationary orbit (altitude of 35,786 kilometres (22,236 mi)).

The most common use for satellites in this region is for navigation, communication, and geodetic/space environment science. The most common altitude is approximately 20,200 kilometres (12,552 mi)), which yields an orbital period of 12 hours, as used, for example, by the Global Positioning System (GPS). Other satellites in medium Earth orbit include Glonass (with an altitude of 19,100 kilometres (11,868 mi))[citation needed] and Galileo (with an altitude of 23,222 kilometres (14,429 mi)) constellations. Communications satellites that cover the North and South Pole are also put in MEO.

The orbital periods of MEO satellites range from about 2 to nearly 24 hours. Telstar 1, an experimental satellite launched in 1962, orbited in MEO.

The orbit is home to a number of artificial satellites.