Communications satellites allow us to listen to the radio, watch television and communicate with each other all over the world. Perhaps the most famous use of communications satellites is the provision of Sky TV. It is worth noting that regardless of whether you have a satellite dish outside of your house, the signals for most of the channels you watch on terrestrial TV have passed through at least one satellite.
This is because communications signals travel in straight lines and do not follow the curvature of the Earth.
Communications satellites receive these signals as they enter space and redirect them either to another satellite or to a receiver on Earth.
Recent developments in satellite communications use a combination of WiFi, satellite and mobile networks to ensure continuous communications coverage regardless of your location. This is being trialed in Aberdeenshire by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help make life-changing differences in the way communities receive medical care.
The project aims to make better links between patients in remote areas with medical experts. This is of particular importance for people who have suffered strokes and for whom rapid response is required. Communications satellites area also used for mobile applications such as communications to ships, vehicles, planes in remote areas. They are also used for hand-held terminals including credit card machines at restaurants.