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If Earth had too much mass?

  1. Jun 16, 2010 #1
    I'm wondering if the world ever reached a point where we harvested materials from the solar system and put them to use on Earth, would we ever have to worry about putting too much material on the Earth and somehow causing adverse affects to the orbit of the Earth around the sun?

    I know this is a far-fetched question, but I'm just curious.

    Feel free to move this thread to somewhere more appropriate if need be.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2010 #2
    I guess if you started increasing the mass by too much, the Earth's current orbit velocity wouldn't be enough to keep it from moving closer to the Sun.

    Seeing as you're talking about harvesting the material for use, if we could do that I guess you could also just replace material we don't need to keep the mass fairly constant. If you had the technology to bring it here, you'd probably have the technology to send it back as well. (;

    This is of course entirely theoretical, I don't have a clue about future technology.

    In short, as long as we kept the mass of the Earth fairly constant I'd assume it wouldn't have any adverse effect on the orbit.
  4. Jun 16, 2010 #3


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    The change in the mass of the earth would have no effect on its orbit (unless it became a significant fraction of the mass of the sun - not too likely).
  5. Jun 16, 2010 #4
    Would gravity not have more of an effect on a more massive object with the same velocity as a smaller object?
  6. Jun 16, 2010 #5


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    Yes, but the more massive object would also have more inertia
  7. Jun 16, 2010 #6
    If the large mass wasn't added uniformly to the Earth, I envision it will change the tilt axis which would affect the climate.

    Maybe it would change so much that we would roll around our orbit like Uranus!
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  8. Jun 16, 2010 #7


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    Staff: Mentor

    Consider the difference between two objects orbiting the sun next to each other and the same two objects combined into one....
  9. Jul 14, 2010 #8
    Well if you increased the mass of Earth, then the center of gravity of the solar system might change, altering the orbit, but it would probably have to be A LOT of mass.
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