Orbit, or orbital path, is a term used to describe the flight path of an object in space which has a repetitive motion and has a distinct center with respect to its flightpath.
A starship uses a form of orbit to maintain its relative position. The term orbit is also used to define the flight path of a planet within its own star system. (ENT: "The Andorian Incident"; TNG: "Force of Nature")
There are several forms of orbit; some of them are referred to by Starfleet personnel with names like "standard orbit" or "high orbit."
- Synchronous orbit: This form is used by a starship to maintain position towards a specific point on a planet's surface. The ship's velocity will be the same as the rotation speed of the planet. (TNG: "Relics")
- High orbit: A form of orbit in which the starship maintains a large distance from the planet's surface for safety reasons but is still close enough to use the transporter. (VOY: "Ex Post Facto", "The Omega Directive") The USS Voyager parked in high orbit over Earth, when it visited the planet in 1996, at an altitude of 20,000 kilometers. (VOY: "Future's End")
- Polar orbit: A type of spacecraft orbit that passes within 22,300 miles of the geographic poles of a planet. An image of the Nimbus 1 satellite in polar orbit of Earth was seen in the USS Enterprise library computer. (TOS: "The Cage") A polar orbit may also be used as an evasive maneuver, since electromagnetic interference from a planet's magnetic pole may disrupt starship sensors. (TNG: "Peak Performance", "The Hunted")
- Stationary orbit (aka Fixed orbit): In this type of orbit, the spacecraft orbits over the same spot on a planet. (TOS: "Miri"; TNG: "Angel One", "Interface"; ENT: "Terra Nova", "These Are the Voyages...")
- Decaying orbit: In this type of orbit, the spacecraft will decrease its distance from the planet until it burns up in the planet's atmosphere. (TOS: "The Galileo Seven")