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ISS orbit webSeveral dozen orbits of the International Space Station trace out a "web" of paths.  Polar regions are never crossed because ISS has a relatively low inclination orbit. Lots 'o satellitesNova's View from Space map with the real-time positions of 4,892 satellites.  The dense cloud in the center is composed of "LEO" Low Earth Orbiting satellites.  The ring beyond is the belt of geosynchronous satellites. GPS constellationThe constellation of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites is arranged in several planes of nearly-circular orbits.
ISS ground tracksThe International Space Station traces out a gentle sine curve on the rectangular map because its orbit is inclined at a small angle to the equator.  This image also shows use of the "NASA" style footprint with its irregular outline representing horizon obstructions.  Day/night are shown as well. 3 types of orbitsThree basic types of orbit are shown by their ground tracks.  ISS is in an inclined "circular" orbit.   A)-16's orbit is a steeply inclined "polar" orbit.  AO-40's orbit is highly eccentric.

All images Copyright 2002 by Northern Lights Software Associates.
All rights reserved.