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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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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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  • $\begingroup$ 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? $\endgroup$ – draks ... Jan 19 '12 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ Dissipated into the ambient magnetic field by the magnetorquer and into heat by friction in the reaction wheels, then radiated via blackbody radiation. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Jan 20 '12 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ 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 $\endgroup$ – Carson Myers Jan 24 '12 at 19:12

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