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Suppose a satellite with a magnetic torquer and reaction wheels. I wonder if it is possible to use both in such a way that the overall effect would be to raise the satellite's altitude?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The satellite could change its attitude, but not altitude. In order to change altitude the satellite would have to speed itself up, that would require some form of reaction engine.

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Ah right, I always forget that it's all about speed. But what happens if you counter balance the spin from magnetic torquer and reaction wheels? Where does your effort/energy go? – draks ... Jan 19 '12 at 22:20
Dissipated into the ambient magnetic field by the magnetorquer and into heat by friction in the reaction wheels, then radiated via blackbody radiation. – Andrew Jan 20 '12 at 2:41
I suppose you could take advantage of the Yarkovsky effect by rotating in the right direction, and radiating heat backwards. Although that acceleration would be negligible compared to atmospheric drag – Carson Myers Jan 24 '12 at 19:12

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