Gravitational catapult and a spacecraft

  • Thread starter mios76
  • Start date
  • #1
10
0
Hello.

"Another notable thing is that Pioneer 10 used the gravitational catapulting effect of Jupiter. That was the first time that was ever done for interplanetary light. Pioneer 11 followed in its footsteps about seven years later to go out of the solar system."

That text was taken from:
http://quest.nasa.gov/sso/cool/pioneer10/general/amonetxt.html

Can anyone explain how such a GRAVITATIONAL CATAPULT works?

Thanks.

Miro
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Integral
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,201
56
It is a fact of physics that if a free body moving through space approaches a massive object, such as a planet or star. The free moving object will be accelerated toward the (shall we say) planet. The path followed by the moving body (say satellite) could be either hyperbolic or parabolic, depending upon its speed and (I believe) angle of approach to the massive body. Both of these paths have the satellite exiting the planet with the SAME speed with which it approached. The satellite will have changed its direction therefore will have a different velocity due to the acceleration of the massive body.

Now consider what happens as the satellite approaches the planet when planet is itself moving, as in a orbit. Now while the satellite is being accelerated toward the planet it will gain speed due to its path through the planets gravitational well and it will pick up a bit of the planets ORBITAL velocity. This is the sling shot. That bit of planetary orbital velocity that is gained in the trip past. The satellite will lose any velocity gained due simply to the gravity of the planet, but will not lose the fraction of orbital velocity aquired durning the fly by.
 

Related Threads on Gravitational catapult and a spacecraft

  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
4K
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
0
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
0
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
722
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
813
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
1K
Top