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Acceleration in an Elliptical Orbit

  1. Feb 26, 2016 #1
    So let's say you are on an orbital satellite in an elliptical orbit around our planet Earth, meaning that the at one point in the orbit you are going faster, due to the gravitational pull of the planet. Would you feel the acceleration in space due to the shape of the orbit?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2016 #2


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    No, you would still be weightless.
  4. Feb 26, 2016 #3
    Even with the air pressure?
  5. Feb 26, 2016 #4
    Because you are moving with the orbital in the orbit, that would mean you are going the same speed as it? So if it were to go faster, wouldn't you be going faster with it, in hand would you feel acceleration?
  6. Feb 26, 2016 #5

    Jonathan Scott

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    If an object is in free fall and you are moving in the same way (inside or near it), then you too are in free fall and weightless. From an external point of view, you may be accelerating (and even for a circular orbit, you are accelerating perpendicularly to the direction of the orbit), but since the object and the person are being accelerated by the same amount, they will not notice the acceleration.

    (To be really accurate, for a large object you can get tidal effects due to the fact that gravity can vary slightly between the highest and lowest point, and you can also get tiny effects due to the mass of the object itself, but these are negligible compared with normal weight).
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