Why Don't Satellites Fall Into Earth? Exploring Gravity's Effects

In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of satellites orbiting the Earth and why their speed of falling into the Earth does not increase radially despite being acted upon by the force of gravity. It is explained that acceleration can also refer to a change in direction, and since satellites are constantly changing direction as they follow the curvature of their orbit, their velocity and acceleration are also constantly changing. It is also mentioned that the planets would fall into the sun if they had no forward momentum, and the reason they remain in orbit is because they have enough forward momentum to balance the pull of gravity.
  • #1
john fairbanks
8
0
when a satalite orbits the Earth my text states that it is constantly falling into the Earth as it moves tangentially -- my question is why doesn't the speed of the object falling into the Earth increase radially since it is acted upon by the force of gravity, a force of gravity would cause an object to accelerate! so the falling velocity should not be constant like the tangential speed -- in fact all planets should fall into what they are orbiting around. But they don't so please help!:confused:
 
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  • #2
Keep in mind that 'acceleration' can mean a change of direction just as properly as a change of speed. A satellite is constantly changing direction as it follows the curvature around its parent.
 
  • #3
The planets would fall into the sun if they had no "forward" momentum. Think of what would happen if the sun suddenly disappered. The Earth would just go in a straight line tanget to the previous orbit. A planet orbits because it has enough forward momentum to exacly balance the pull of gravity.
 
  • #4
The planets would fall into the sun if they had no "forward" momentum. Think of what would happen if the sun suddenly disappered. The Earth would just go in a straight line tanget to the previous orbit. A planet orbits because it has enough forward momentum to exacly balance the pull of gravity.
 
  • #5
Thnaks for responding, they move tangent to the orbit at a uniform velocity but the force of gravity should accelerate the satellite or planet, just like in our atmosphere, speed increases as a body falls due to gravity. it accelerates, the fall is not a constant speed -- so why does the velocity of the fall of a satellite stay the same. du to accelerationdarisI kno
 
  • #6
john fairbanks said:
Thnaks for responding, they move tangent to the orbit at a uniform velocity but the force of gravity should accelerate the satellite or planet, just like in our atmosphere, speed increases as a body falls due to gravity. it accelerates, the fall is not a constant speed -- so why does the velocity of the fall of a satellite stay the same. :confused:
 
  • #7
The velocity does not remain the same. Velocity is a vector (it entails both speed and direction). Since the direction is constantly changing, so is the velocity... which is the definition of 'acceleration'.
 

Related to Why Don't Satellites Fall Into Earth? Exploring Gravity's Effects

1. How do satellites stay in orbit?

Satellites stay in orbit due to the balance between the centrifugal force of their motion and the force of gravity pulling them towards the Earth. This balance is known as orbital velocity, and it allows satellites to maintain a constant distance from the Earth while moving around it.

2. Why don't satellites fall into the Earth?

Satellites don't fall into the Earth because they are constantly moving forward at a high speed, which creates a centrifugal force that counteracts the pull of gravity. This results in a circular orbit around the Earth, rather than falling towards it.

3. How does gravity affect satellites?

Gravity affects satellites by pulling them towards the Earth, causing them to constantly accelerate towards the ground. However, the velocity of their motion creates a centrifugal force that balances out the pull of gravity, allowing them to maintain a stable orbit.

4. What happens to satellites when gravity changes?

When gravity changes, either due to variations in the Earth's gravitational pull or the gravitational influence of other bodies in space, satellites may experience changes in their orbit. They may also need to adjust their speed or trajectory to maintain a stable orbit.

5. Can satellites fall out of orbit?

Yes, satellites can fall out of orbit if they experience a significant change in their speed or trajectory, such as a collision with another object or a change in gravitational pull. However, this is rare and most satellites are designed with systems to adjust their orbit and prevent this from happening.

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