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RE: AO-40 Orbit Question



> Can anyone tell me why AO-40 orbits the way it does?  Or, maybe more
> directly, what causes AO-40's orbit to be more of a figure 8?  I am a
> Physics student and am always looking for questions!

I get the impression you're talking about the ground track, not the orbit.
AO-40 (like all satellites!) has an elliptical orbit, but one with a fair
degree of eccentricity, so that the perigee is quite low (around 850 km),
but the apogee is quite high (around 60000km).  This also means that the
speed at which the satellite passes over the ground changes quite
dramatically throught the orbit.  The result, when combined with the
rotation of the Earth leads to a complex looking ground track. 
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