What is Low-Earth Orbit satellite against which India launched a 'surgical strike' in space?

Representative image. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 27, 2019, 12.51 PM (IST)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that India shot down a Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite and congratulated the Indian scientists for the feat. He said the anti-satellite (A-Sat) missile used to bring the LEO satellite down was made in India.

"Today, a LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) was downed by our space scientists. LEO had a set target, was shot down by anti-satellite missile in just three minutes," PM Modi said in his address to the nation.

This is a proud moment for every Indian, he added.

But what is a Low-Earth Orbit satellite and how is it different from a regular satellite?

The Low-Earth Orbit satellites revolve around the earth only a few hundred kilometres (the low-earth orbit, hence the name) above the surface as against a geostationary orbit or other higher orbits which are used by communication or defence satellites to keep an eye on our plant. These satellites are primarily used for data communication and move at extremely high speeds.

More and more LEO satellites are being made today and they have crowded the space. These satellites are cost-effective and require lowest amount of energy for placement in space sice they use less powerful amplifiers for successful transmission. The latency too is very less and such satellites are easily accessible to crews.

One of the biggest disadvantages of using a LEO satellite, as pointed out by experts, is that its field of view is very limited, so a cluster of such satellites is needed to provide continuous coverage.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that today's 'Mission Shakti' has propelled India into the league of elite countries which have this capability - of using an A-Sat missile to ward of threats from LEO satellites. India, Modi said, is now the fourth country after US, Russia and China to possess this technology.