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Satellite in orbit - forces involved

  1. Jun 4, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A satellite orbits the Earth once every 120 minutes.
    The satellite is in a state of free fall. What is meant by the term free fall? How can the height of the satellite stay constant if the satellite is in free fall? [3 marks]

    2. Relevant equations
    3. The attempt at a solution
    So is this correct:

    Free-fall: when the only force acting on an object is the gravitational force
    - as the force is acting ppd to direction of motion, no work is done on the satellite
    - the satellite moves in a circle at a constant speed at a constant height
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 4, 2012 #2
    Hi jsmith!

    Yes!! :smile:
  4. Jun 4, 2012 #3
    Because the satellite is moving very fast. Another force would either slow the satellite down, so it would move closer to the earth, or speed it up, so it would move away from the earth.
  5. Jun 4, 2012 #4
    I am an exams officer for a UK exam board. Can you let me know where this exam question came from ?.,.... is it an exam question or a question from a teacher?

    are you sure youhave worded the question correctly??
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
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