Orbits And Gravity: Gravity Puzzle

Orbits and Gravity: Gravity Puzzle


This module concentrates quite a bit on gravity, which plays a key role in most astronomical phenomena.  Use the results from your ranking exercise,  as you respond to this discussion


Imagine you are an astronaut exploring an exoplanetary system (we’ll worry about the technical difficulties of doing this, which are substantial, later).  You are on a spacewalk fixing a minor issue on your (very large and massive) spaceship when you are told to check out the source of a mysterious force that is pulling your ship away from the planets in the system.  The force has been determined to be a gravitational force, but your ship’s instruments cannot detect the source of the pull in any way other than the gravity it is exerting.  It is some form of dark matter, and there is a lot of it, at least it seems to have a lot more mass than your spaceship.

Gravity puzzle picture revised.png This is descried in he Gravty Puzzle  discussion

You wonder if it is some kind of planetary defense system and decide to get closer to the source to see if you can see anything.   When you get 1/4 of the way there (Position B) you come to a stop an then turn off your jetpack. You find yourself drifting towards the object at an increasing speed.  At that point your flight computer notifies you that because of the extremely strong pull you have just enough propellant to put yourself in a position where you can “park” yourself, turn of your jetpack, and stay there without being pulled in one direction or another.  You will need to wait there for several hours to take data from outside the ship before you can return to it, then one of your crewmates will come and retrieve you.


Not later than 2 days before the discussion due date post the answer to this question:

Which of the lettered locations is the one your flight computer suggested you move to?

Note that point A is halfway between the ship and the location of the mysterious dark matter. Point B is at roughly 1/4 the distance, where you started out.  You can assume the gravitational pull from the spaceship is directed towards it’s middle.

In your post, please describe your flight plan, specifying which location you will put yourself out and explain why you chose that location. Do you need to use any propellant after you reach the point?  Why or why not? Remember that you need to be stationary there for a long time without using any jetpack propellant, and that the spaceship is very massive, basically a small world of its own, but not as massive as the mysterious dark matter.

You must start a thread with your answers to the questions before you will be able to view the answers of others. Your initial post is worth 6 out of 10 points.  A scoring rubric is attached to this discussion. If you don’t feel confident in your answers, don’t worry.  If you correct yourself as a result of the discussion, by posting a response to your initial post, with an explanation of your mistake, you can get full credit.


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