The period during a satellite’s orbit when it enters Earth’s shadow and does not receive direct sunlight. It occurs when the satellite, Earth, and the Sun are aligned in such a way that the Earth blocks the Sun’s rays from reaching the satellite.
During an eclipse, the satellite passes through the Earth’s shadow, resulting in a temporary loss of direct sunlight. The duration of an eclipse depends on the satellite’s orbital parameters and the geometry of the Sun, Earth, and satellite alignment. Satellites in low Earth orbits (LEOs) may experience more frequent eclipses compared to satellites in higher orbits.
Eclipses have significant implications for satellite operations, particularly in terms of power generation and thermal conditions. When a satellite is in eclipse, it relies on stored energy from batteries or other power sources since it cannot generate power from solar panels. This temporary loss of solar power can affect the overall power budget of the satellite and necessitate careful energy management to ensure uninterrupted operation of onboard systems.