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Coriolis force question

  1. Jan 12, 2011 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Imagine that you are an observer in space (so you are in an inertial system), when the cannon (located on the equator) fires a cannonball in north direction. What does the trajectory of the cannonball look like from your perspective? Is it a straight line (that would mean that the cannonball is not affected by Earth's rotation) or something like a spiral?

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I think that, since the only real force acting on the body is the gravitational force, the trajectory is like a spiral. I also know that no Coriolis force exists in my inertial frame of reference. Am I right?
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2011 #2
    The question is not so clear for me. This is what I think-
    If you consider the earth to be an inertial frame of reference, then the trajectory of the ball would be a straight line.
    If you consider the earth to be a non-inertial frame of reference (take its rotation in account), then the trajectory of the ball would be similar to a spiral.

    In both the above cases, you are in an inertial frame of reference, so there will not be any Coriolis force.
  4. Jan 13, 2011 #3
    If you don't shoot the cannonball faster than escape velocity, the orbit will be an ellipse. Look up two-body problem. Of course the ellipse will intersect the surface of the earth again at some point.
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