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Space shuttle Atlantis orbit question

  1. Jan 7, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    True or False: The space shuttle Atlantis follows an essentially circular obrit for most of it's operational time on a mission. While in orbit, the gravity of the earth does not do any work on the shuttle because the shuttle is not accelerating.


    2. Relevant equations
    W=fd


    3. The attempt at a solution
    I think this would be false. My answer is that the gravity on earth does not do any work because the shuttle is moving in a different direction than the force, and it doesn't matter that the shuttle is not accelerating. To have work, the direction moved must be in the same direction as the force. Is this correct?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 7, 2009 #2

    Dick

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    Re: Work

    Roughly correct. But then why do you think it's false? The proposition is that no work is done and I agree. Why don't you say it's true? (that no work is done).
     
  4. Jan 7, 2009 #3
    Re: Work

    Thanks!
     
  5. Jan 8, 2009 #4

    turin

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    Re: Work

    ahrog, you were correct (and not just roughly) to say "false", and for exactly the reason that you gave. Acceleration is irrelevent to work being done, and, in fact, the space shuttle IS accelerating.

    "... because it is not accelerating." There was more than one proposition made.

    Would you say that, "the arora borealis occurs near the north pole because it is created by santa claus," is a true statement? It is certainly true that the arora borealis occurs near the north pole, but I would still declare this to be a false statement.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2009
  6. Jan 8, 2009 #5

    Dick

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    Re: Work

    Right! I wasn't paying nearly enough attention to the 'because' part. Thanks for catching that.
     
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