Questions tagged [celestial-mechanics]

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1answer
219 views

What parameters determine the acceleration a spacecraft can acquire using the gravity of a celestial body?

Contemporary spacecraft frequently rely upon gravity to accelerate/decelerate. Given a spacecraft already in space - What factors determine the acceleration it can acquire from the gravity of another ...
2
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1answer
878 views

Angular momentum components as independent integrals of motion

I was told that in order to solve the Kepler problem (6 degrees of freedom in total) you have to proceed, step by step, to reduce those degrees of freedom using the integrals of motion. You do so ...
2
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1answer
878 views

What is the typical orbital life of an artificial satellite?

The orbit of satellites around Earth eventually decays, or so I read. This is typically caused either by atmospheric drag, or by tides. I would assume most satellites have a limited service life in ...
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7answers
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Gravity on the International Space Station

We created a table in my physics class which contained the strength of gravity on different planet and objects in space. At altitude 0 (Earth), the gravitational strength is 100%. On the Moon at ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Does a tidally locked planet have seasons?

Could a tidally locked planet have seasons? According to my understanding, a tidally locked planet rotates around itself exactly once per rotation around its sun. However, if the axis of rotation of ...
9
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1answer
349 views

Orbit through L4 and L5

I was reading the Wikipedia article on Lagrangian points and doing the requisite wiki walk through the various quasi-satellites of Earth when a question occurred to me: Could there be a stable or ...
3
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0answers
267 views

Simple model of the solar system. Parameters? Accuracy?

I was thinking of making a simple 2D model of the solar system, with planets moving along ellipses like $$x(t) = k_x \sin(t + k_t) (\sin(k_\phi) + \cos(k_\phi))$$ $$y(t) = k_y \cos(t + k_t) (cos(k_\...
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5answers
1k views

Gravitation in a space that is topologically toroidal

In my scant spare time I'm building an Asteroids game. You know - a little ship equipped with a pea shooter and a bunch of asteroids floating around everywhere waiting to be to blown up. But, I wanted ...
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2answers
2k views

Do all planets rotate around the sun with the same acceleration?

I have this question in mind. suppose if by any chance, all planet around sun stopped rotating. then as per formula F= M * A. all planet should fall with same acceleration towards sun and ultimately ...
1
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1answer
944 views

On the origin of the rotation of celestial bodies [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why does Venus rotate the opposite direction as other planets? Why does every thing spin? As far as I can imagine, almost each celestial body, star, planet, solar-systems, ...
9
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1answer
570 views

Will Neptune change Pluto's orbit some day?

My seven-year-old son loves astronomy-- so much so that we read space books before bed time. One of our books talks about Pluto's orbit crossing over Neptune's orbit and will be (or is) closer to the ...
10
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4answers
971 views

Collision of Phobos

Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos. Both are irregular and are believed to have been captured from the nearby asteroid belt. Phobos always shows the same face to Mars because of tidal forces ...
6
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6answers
10k views

Why is the universe so organized?

If you think about the Big Bang and the flow of matter in all directions, you would think, how unorganized would this universe be? No matter how long it would take. The idea that matter or most of it ...
5
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1answer
337 views

Is the orbit of the planets around the Sun chaotic?

The orbit of the earth seems to be very predictable. But as it is a many-body problem having sun, earth, moon, jupiter and so on, is it really that stable or will it start making strange movements ...
9
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4answers
1k views

Can a moon have another large body as a satellite, and are there any examples of such?

In my mind, I'm comparing it to the Sun-Earth-Moon system. After all, the Earth is primarily a satellite of the Sun, but the Moon is still gravitationally bound to the Earth. Could something like this ...
41
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4answers
69k views

What did general relativity clarify about Mercury?

I frequently hear that Kepler, using his equations of orbital motion, could predict the orbits of all the planets to a high degree of accuracy -- except Mercury. I've heard that mercury's motion ...
5
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1answer
257 views

Calculation of a Gravity Resonance Keyhole

Can anyone describe the mathematics behind the calculation of a resonance keyhole (for a two-body model)? It seems like the size and position of the keyhole should be a function only of mass and ...
8
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5answers
830 views

Why aren't all rocks in space orbiting bigger rocks?

Why do only big rocks (planets) have satellites, and not small ones? Why doesn't cosmic dust orbit rocks that are many times heavier than the dust grains? If dust is still too heavy then what about ...
8
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3answers
1k views

Are there planetary systems where the planes of orbits vary greatly?

Inspired by this question, are there any known planetary systems with largely varying planes of orbit? For example a system where two planets have perpendicular planes?
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2answers
2k views

How do horseshoe orbits work?

An asteroid was recently discovered that is in a horseshoe orbit with respect to the earth. Is there an intuitive explanation for these orbits? It seems that the earth acts as a repulsive force where ...
6
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4answers
8k views

How is it possible for orbits to maintain stability?

According to $a = v^2/R$, the circular velocity and radial distance between two attracting objects (such as planets), must remain in perfect proportion in order for orbital motion to take place. How ...
5
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4answers
4k views

Historically, how do we know that Earth moves around Sun? And it does so in an elliptical orbit?

I know the basics of solar system like how Earth moves around Sun, and that we have so many planets, elliptical orbit of earth, and how far is sun from earth etc etc. I want to take a step back and ...
6
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3answers
544 views

How accurately is the moment of perihelion of Earth known, and how is it measured?

Earth's perihelion passed about nine hours ago. How accurately do we know the moment of closest approach of the Earth to the center of the sun? How do we make this measurement?
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6answers
10k views

Why are the orbits of planets in the Solar System nearly circular?

Except for Mercury, the planets in the Solar System have very small eccentricities. Is this property special to the Solar System? Wikipedia states: Most exoplanets with orbital periods of 20 days ...
5
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3answers
2k views

How would I calculate celestial body characteristics without a priori knowledge?

Without any a priori knowledge of the mass, speed, distance, and size of local celestial bodies (aside from Earth's size), what can I calculate and how from my "backyard" through observation? Edit: ...
6
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2answers
911 views

How about an exact solution for the position of a planet as a function of time?

Recently I was surprised to discover that no exact solution for the position of a planet as a function of time exists. I am referring to the two-body problem in a gravitational field where Newtons law ...
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5answers
25k views

Planet orbits: what's the difference between gravity and centripetal force?

My physics teacher says that centripetal force is caused by gravity. I'm not entirely sure how this works? How can force cause another in space (ie where there's nothing). My astronomy teacher says ...