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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How closely may an artificial satellite orbit Earth without decaying appreciably each orbit?

Just what the title states. An artificial satellite will orbit Earth with some defined angular momentum. An aircraft,on the other hand, relies upon it's engines to provide continuous forward velocity ...
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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 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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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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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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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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Why is the Pegasus launched from a subsonic airplane?

Considering that the reason typically given for launching spacecraft from sea-level as opposed to mountains is that the limiting factor is velocity, not altitude, then why isn't the Pegasus rocket ...
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Is there a “map” of the interplanetary transport network?

To my understanding, the idea behind the interplanetary transport network is that areas near heavy objects and their Lagrange points are accesible with comparatively little energy, for example one ...
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Can the axis of rotation of a celestial body point in any arbitrary direction?

I am developing a small computer program that involves moderately simple simulation of elliptical Kepler orbits for fictional, generated star systems. I'm doing this without much prior knowledge of ...
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Does spin of the earth vary at different locations?

Does the spin of the earth around its axis vary at different distance from the sun?,if so how does it correspond to the length of day and night,?
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Practical limits on the size of orbiting objects: could two pebbles orbit each other

As I understand it, gravity is inherent to mass and therefore even a small rock has its own gravitational pull. It seems entirely plausible then that a rock 1" in diameter could orbit a bigger rock, ...
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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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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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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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Gravity in other dimensions than 3 and stable orbits

I have heard from here that stable orbits (ones that require a large amount of force to push it significantly out of it's elliptical path) can only exist in a three spatial dimensions because gravity ...
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Earth-Moon orbiting each other after being engulfed by Red Giant

Recently some exoplanets were discovered which are thought to be the leftover cores of giant planets that had survived a star becoming a Red Giant and then shrinking back to a subdwarf. If giant ...
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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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I'm asking this apparently "general reference" question for the simple reason: I was unable to find whether the quoted everywhere "35,786 kilometers (22,236 mi) above the Earth's equator" means ...
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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 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 ...