# Tagged Questions

Circular or elliptical motion caused by the gravitational force of one object on another; for instance, satellites moving around the Earth, or the planets moving around the sun.

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### Why do “mascons” perturb orbits?

If the moon is a rigid body, why do the mass concentrations on the moon make orbits unstable? Doesn't a satellite just orbit the center of mass of it's parent body? Satellites (e.g. GRACE) seem to ...
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### What happens when half of an orbiting object's matter is annihilated?

Suppose object A orbits object B, and that there are no outside gravitational influences non-Sun gravity influences, and that object A is completely spherical and its mass is evenly distributed. Now, ...
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### A change in the mass of the moon [closed]

Would a change in the mass or radius of the moon have any effect on its speed? When asked this question in an assignment, I stated that it did not. My reasoning being that a change in the mass or ...
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### How to plot an orbit with an inclination? [migrated]

How do I plot an orbit with an inclination? I've managed to plot an orbit with zero inclination: ...
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### Computing 2d Orbital Parameters

When using formulas that describe a 2d orbit around a planetary body: is it actually OK for the semi-major axis $a$ to be negative? when $a$ is negative, it is impossible to compute mean anomaly ...
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### Elliptical orbits passing 2 points [closed]

I would like to find set of possible elliptical orbits which pass 2 points in plane. I was searching for some solutions in orbital mechanics texts but I didn't found any. There are several possible ...
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### Where are the L3, L4, and L5 of a hyperbolic orbit?

Do the L3, L4, L5 points exist in hyperbolic orbits? If yes, then where do they lie?
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### A satellite in orbit fires it's engines for a short interval. Is the new orbit closer or further away?

A satellite is in a circular orbit when its engines turn on to exert a small force in the direction of the velocity for a short time interval. Is the new orbit further or closer to the Earth? The ...
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### Does an elliptical orbit of a satellite maintain its orientation as the Earth revolves?

Imagine a satellite in an elliptical orbit around Earth. As the earth travels around the sun, does the elliptical orbit of the satellite swing around Earth, as pictured in A, or does it maintain a ...
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### How to find distance of closest approach for a Schwarzschild geodesic?

What is the distance of closest approach in this Wikipedia article? I can't seem to find its definition, and this other question doesn't have an answer I can understand.
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### Acceleration due to gravity?

I was looking into orbitals and found something I haven't been able to understand. http://www.math.ubc.ca/~cass/courses/m309-01a/hunter/satelliteOrbits.html There is a part on the page which states ...
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### Defining the star as the ellipse focus rather than the barycenter, what does the other focus do? [duplicate]

There are a lot of images and animations on the internet depicting two bodies orbiting around their common barycenter. The barycenter is defined as the (let's say right) focus of the ellipse. If we ...
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### Gravitational resonances for satellites

I read on the website of European Space Agency that the altitude of Galileo satellites, which is 29600 Km from the center of the Earth, is chosen to avoid gravitational resonances so that station ...
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### Uniqueness and existence of polygonal orbits through a spherical shell

Say we have a spherical wire mesh raised to a negative voltage. Then let's say we release a proton from near the surface, and away from the surface, at some angle and speed. Also, imagine that the ...
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### Orbital mechanics and rocketry: Is it ever a good idea to intentionally lower periapsis?

tl;dr: Hohmann Transfer appears to be the optimal way to achieve a circular-to-circular orbit, but is it possible to lower the periapsis in order to achieve a more elliptical orbit with apoapsis at ...
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### Semi-major axis and ellipticity of a binary system?

In the image below (source at bottom), it seems to be suggesting that $$a = a_{1} + a_{2}, \hspace{8cm}(1)$$ where $a_{1}$ and $a_{2}$ are the semi-major axis of the ...
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### How do you actually define an orbit?

How do you actually define an orbit? I believe, Newtonian Mechanics describes an orbit as one object in free fall around another where projectile paths become elliptical. I think, Einstein describes ...
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### (Re-)use of a space elevator (basic mechanics and potential energy source)

It's said that if a space elevator were made then it would be much more efficient to put objects in orbit. I've always wondered about the durability of a space elevator though. I don't mean the ...
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### How is celestial navigation done on a low-level?

When we send a probe off to Jupiter or Saturn, or even Earth orbit, how are the rocket firings timed and coordinated? For instance, when I want to drive to another city I pull onto the highway and ...
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### How do you explain Kepler's third law in general terms without complex math?

I understand the first law-elliptical orbits, and the second-equal area in same time, but I need help with the third one. Note that I am not in an AP course or taking calculus at the moment so simple ...
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### What is the limit to how many satellites can orbit the earth?

I would like to know how many satellites are physically able to be in place, at the same time, orbiting the earth. Lets ignore which Nations need or use the most satellites (area in space above them) ...
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### Constructing an orbital trajectory that quickly returns to its origin

I'm working on a science fiction story that involves two spaceships engaged in combat while in orbit around a planetoid. My original idea called for spaceship A to trick spaceship B into firing a ...
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### Condition for closed orbit [closed]

I'd like to know when an orbit is closed. I know that, to have a closed orbit, there is a ratio that must be a rational number, but I don't know other things..
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### How is space ship's acceleration perceived if the acceleration is perpendicular to the velocity?

Spacecraft in orbit around the Earth are constantly accelerated by the gravitational field of Earth. That's why the spacecraft ($m \ll M$) is in an (elliptical) orbit around the centre of gravity of ...
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### Can we transfer burn to another planet at any time?

Assume delta-v isn't a problem and circular orbits. EDIT: Assume that you're already in orbit so you don't have to shift a massive load of fuel up, and the absolute ideal is something that has a ...
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### Expression for distance of closest approach in Schwarzschild Geodesics

The Wikipedia article Two-body problem in General Relativity uses two length-scale variables, $a$ and $b$, to simplify the math. For some information about these, consider these statements from the ...