(a) In terms of energy expenditure:
1. Which planet in the solar system is easiest to reach?
2. Which major body in the solar system is hardest to reach? Why, and what shape orbit would be needed to get there?
3. Which of the following scenarios requires more energy?
- Leaving Earth and landing on Mars, or
- Leaving Earth and doing a flyby of Jupiter
The Attempt at a Solution
This is what I'm thinking...
(a) 1. Venus. Because it is the closest planet to Earth and is between Earth and the Sun, less velocity is required due to the GSI of the Sun pulling us in the proper direction. It also requires the fewest transit orbits.
2. This one tripped me up. He specifically words it as "major body" and gives a hint that the answer may not be on the list of planets he provided. Because of that, I'm thinking the Sun. I'm not entirely sure why, though. The only thing I can imagine is that it's because of how absolutely massive the Sun is, even though it's easier to move in that direction, it's a lot harder in terms of energy use to make sure you don't smack into it.
3. I imagine it's difficult to get to Jupiter in terms of energy use, but landing on a planet surely requires the most energy (again, so you don't crash into it or overshoot it) to make sure you are in the correct positions at the correct time, and to place the craft onto the surface. So I'm rolling with landing on Mars.
It's worth noting that this class doesn't get into any of the actual math (although I think it'd be easier for me if it did) behind these problems, or orbits in general, which I think is why I'm having a harder time with it.