Satellite accounts provide a framework linked to the to central (national or regional) accounts, allowing attention to be focused on a certain field or aspect of economic and social life in the context of national accounts; common examples are satellite accounts for the environment, or tourism, or unpaid household work.
Satellite accounts are one way in which the System of National Accounts may be adapted to meet differing circumstances and needs. They are closely linked to the main system but are not bound to employ exactly the same concepts or restrict themselves to data expressed in monetary terms. Satellite accounts are intended for special purposes such as monitoring the community's health or the state of the environment. They may also be used to explore new methodologies and to work out new accounting procedures that, when fully developed and accepted, might become absorbed into the main system over time.
Satellite accounts can meet specific data needs by providing more detail, by rearranging concepts from the central framework or by providing supplementary information. They can range from simple tables to an extended set of accounts in special areas like for e.g. environment or education.