HSC Physics
Space
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
1
Table of Contents
Main Idea Syllabus Dotpoint Page
The Earth has a
gravitational
field that exerts
a force on
objects both on
it and around it
 Define weight as the force on an object due to a gravitational field 4
 Explain that a change in gravitational potential energy is related to
work done
4
 Define gravitational potential energy as the work done to move an
object from a very large distance away to a point in a gravitational
field:
4
 Perform a First Hand Investigation to determine the value of g 6
 Identify reasons for the possible variations from the value 9.8 ms
2
7
 Gather second hand information to predict the value of
acceleration due to gravity on other planets
8
The Solar System
is held together
by gravity
 Describe a gravitational field in the region surrounding a massive
object in terms of its effects on other masses in it
9
 Define Newtons Law of Universal Gravitation, solve problems and
analyse information using:
9
 Discuss the importance of Newtons Law of Universal Gravitation
in understanding and calculating the motion of satellites
10
 Identify that a slingshot effect can be provided by planets for
space probes
12
Many factors
have to be taken
into account to
achieve a
successful rocket
launch, maintain
a stable orbit
and return to
Earth
 Describe the tractor of an object undergoing projectile motion
within the Earths gravitational field in terms of horizontal and
vertical components
13
 Describe Galileos analysis of projectile motion 14
 Solve problems and analyse information to calculate the actual
velocity of a projectile from its horizontal and vertical components
using:
15
 Perform a firsthand investigation, gather information and analyse
data to calculate initial and final velocity, maximum height
reached, range and time of flight of a projectile for a range of
situations by using simulations, data loggers and computer analysis
16
 Explain the concept of escape velocity in terms of the: 17
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
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Gravitational constant
Mass and radius of the planet
 Outline Newtons concept of escape velocity 17
 Identify why the term g forces is used to explain the forces acting
on an astronaut during launch
18
 Discuss the effect of the Earths orbital motion and its rotational
motion on the launch of a rocket
19
 Analyse the changing acceleration of a rocket during launch in
terms of the
Law of Conservation of Momentum
Forces experienced by astronauts
19
 Analyse the forces involved in uniform circular motion for a range
of objects, including satellites orbiting the Earth
24
 Solve problems and analyse information to calculate centripetal
force acting on a satellite undergoing uniform circular motion
about the Earth using:
24
 Compare qualitatively low Earth and geostationary orbits 25
 Define the term orbital velocity and the quantitative relationship
between orbital velocity, the gravitational constant, mass of the
satellite and the radius of the orbit using Keplers law of Periods
25
 Solve problems and analyse information using:
25
 Account for the orbital decay of satellites in low Earth orbit 26
 Discuss issues associated with safe reentry into the Earths
atmosphere and landing on the Earths surface
26
 Identify that there is an optimum angle for safe reentry for a
manned spacecraft into the Earths atmosphere and the
consequences of failing to achieve this angle
27
 Identify data sources, gather, analyse and present information on
the contribution of Werner von Braun to the development of
space exploration
28
Current and
emerging
understanding
about time and
space has been
dependent upon
earlier models of
the transmission
of light
 Outline the features of the aether model for the transmission of
light
29
 Describe and evaluate the MichelsonMorley attempt to measure
the relative velocity of the Earth through the aether; interpret the
results of the MichelsonMorley experiment
29
 Discuss the role of MichelsonMorley experiments in making
determinations about competing theories
29
 Perform an investigation to help distinguish between noninertial
and inertial frames of reference
30
 Outline the nature of inertial frames of reference 30
 Discuss the principle of relativity 31
 Describe the significance of Einsteins assumption of the constancy
of the speed of light
31
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 Identify that if c is a constant then space and time become relative 31
 Discuss the concept that length standards are defined in terms of
time in contrast to the original metre standard
32
 Analyse and interpret some of Einsteins thought experiments
involving mirrors and trains and discuss the relationship between
thought and reality
32
 Explain qualitatively and quantitatively the consequences of
special relativity in relation to:
The relativity of simultaneity
The equivalence between mass and energy
Length contraction
Time dilation
Mass dilation
33
 Solve problems and analyse information using:
34
 Analyse information to discuss the relationship between theory
and the evidence supporting it, using Einsteins predictions based
on relativity that were made many years before evidence was
available to support it
37
 Discuss the implications of mass increase, time dilation and length
contraction for space travel
38
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The Earth has a gravitational field that exerts a force on objects
both on it and around it
 Define weight as the force on an object due to a gravitational field
Mass is the measure of matter of an object. It is a scalar quantity and is independent of
location in a gravitational field. Weight however is the force (pull or push) acting on a
mass due to a gravitational field and is dependent of location. As it is a force, it is a
vector quantity. Its magnitude is calculated by the formula W = mg where W(N) is the
weight and m(kg) is the mass of the object and g(ms
2
) is the acceleration due to gravity
at the point. Its direction is the direction of the gravitational field.
Calculate the weight of a mass of 80kg on the surface of the Earth and the moon.
Weight on Earth = m * g = 80 * 9.8 = 784 N
Weight on Moon = m * g = 80 * 1.6 = 128 N
 Explain that a change in gravitational potential energy is related to work done
In order to move an object in a gravitational field (change in potential energy) work must
be done. Doing work involves transformation of energy. Here kinetic energy is
transformed into potential energy or vice versa. If moved in the opposite direction to
the field, positive work is done. If moved in the direction of the field negative work is
done.For objects within a gravitational field, gravitational potential energy is given by:
whereE
p
(in J),m is mass (in kg), g is gravitational acceleration (in ms
2)
and h is vertical
height (m). In other words, as mg is the weight (force), Work = Force*Distance =mgh.
If a mass of 500g is lifted 10cm above the ground what is its change in potential
energy?
Ep = final Ep initial Ep = (0.5 * 9.8 * 0.1) (0.5 * 9.8 * 0) = 0.49 J
 Define gravitational potential energy as the work done to move an object from a very
large distance away to a point in a gravitational field
Gravitational Potential Energy is defined as the work done to move a mass from infinity
to a point in a gravitational field. Due to the inverse relationship (1 / r) E
p
will only
become zero if r approaches infinity. The gravitational potential energy is zero at infinity
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and as it falls back, work is done and it gains kinetic energy (losing an equal magnitude
of potential energy). As E
p
is becoming less from zero, it should be of a negative value.
Therefore gravitational potential energy is given by the formula:
E
p
= gravitational potential energy (J)
G = Universal Gravitational Constant: 6.67 * 10
11
m
c
= mass of the central body (kg)
m
o
= mass of the object (kg)
r = distance between the centres of the two masses (m)
Calculate the gravitational potential energy of an 80kg astronaut who is at an altitude
of 1500km in the Earths atmosphere.
) (
Note that this is different to Ep= mgh as for that equation the zero reference is the
surface of Earth. The negative energy is consistent with the concept of energy wells
where energy input is required to move the object to a further position, out from a
stable orbit.
An object only has zero Ep when it is no longer within the gravitational field, that is, a
very large distance away. (Mathematically, distance must be infinite.)
The change in potential energy of a mass m is defined as the work done to move the
mass m from its initial distance Ri to the centre of a body of mass M to its final position
Rf. This is expressed as:
)
AEp = change in gravitational potential energy (J)
G = Universal Gravitational Constant: 6.67 * 10
11
m
c
= mass of the central body (kg)
m
o
= mass of the object (kg)
Ri = initial distance from the centre of each mass (m)
Rf = final distance from the centre of each mass (m)
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Calculate the change in gravitational potential energy of a 2000kg satellite when it
increases its altitudefrom 10,000km to 20,000km,
 Perform a First Hand Investigation to determine the value of g
Using a simple pendulum to determine the acceleration due to gravity:
Aim: To determine the acceleration due to gravity using a simple pendulum
Apparatus: Retort stand, boss head and clamp, thin light string, a pendulum bob,
metreruler and a stop watch.
Theory: When a simple pendulum; a small mass at the end of a very light string swinging
a small angle, swings; its period, (T) depends only on two variables: the length of the
string, (l) and the acceleration due to gravity (g).
g
l
T t 2 = Squaring both sides: l
g
T


.

\

=
2
2
4t
The graph of
2
T on yaxis and l on the xaxis should be a straight line through origin. The
gradient of this graph is
g
2
4t
.
Method: Set up the retort stands and clamp it on the edge of the table. Attach one end
of a 100 cm string the pendulum and the other end to the clamp.
Measure the length of the string from the clamp and to the centre of the pendulum bob.
Enter this on the result table. Set the pendulum to swing with a maximum deviation of
an angle of 15
0
. Use the stop watch to time 10 complete oscillations. Enter the result in
the table. Repeat the timing of 10 oscillations after shortening the string by 10 cm each
time enter the each length and corresponding time in the result table.
Care should be taken to ensure accuracy and reliability of each measurement and to
strictly follow the safe laboratory practices.
Result: Copy the results and complete the table shown below and then draw the graph
of period squared versus length of the pendulum.
Trial Time for 10
oscillations ( s)
Period
T(s)
Period Squared
T
2
( s
2
)
Length of Pendulum
l (m)
1
2
3
4
5
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Analysis: Draw a line of best fit and determine the gradient of the line, from which
calculate the acceleration due to gravity. Discuss the reliability, accuracy and the
validity of your result.
Experimental Errors affecting the value of g:
Ensuring the pendulum swings in a single vertical plane, which results in a more
accurate and unified period value for each swing.
Using a time over 10 whole swings (periods) instead of a single swing reduces the
error involved with the reaction time of the person with the timer.
Parallax error when measuring the length of the pendulum may affect the value
calculated for g.
 Identify reasons for the possible variations from the value 9.8 ms
2
o Nonspherical shape of the planet:Planets are not perfectly spherical. For
Example, Earth is about 25 km flatter than at equator. Hence the acceleration
due to gravity is higher at poles than at equator.
o Density variation of the interior of the planet: Places where the lithosphere is
thick, or where there are dense mineral deposits or nearby mountains
experience greater gravitational force compared to places over less dense rock or
water.For example, density of water is much less than the earth material.
Therefore gravitational acceleration is much less over the water bodies than
earth surface of the same altitude.
o Spin of the planet: Spin of the planet also affects the gravitational acceleration.
Linear speed at the equator is the highest and reduces to zero at the poles. The
deducing effect of the spin is the highest at the equator.
o Gravitational force depends on altitude. Places with greater elevation such at
mountain ranges experience less gravitational force, compared to areas closer to
sea level.
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 Gather second hand information to predict the value of acceleration due to gravity on
other planets
Using known values of mass and average radius for other planets we can predict the
average value of g at the surface of the planet using the formula
where g is the
gravitational acceleration, G is the Universal Gravitational Constant, M is the mass of the
planet and r is the distance from the centre of the planet.
The table below shows the gravitational acceleration on the surfaces of the planets in
the solar system.
Planet Mass(kg) Radius(km)
Predictedg(ms

2
)
Relativeweight(x9.8Nkg

1
)
Mercury
6380 9.80 1
Moon
F = Force experienced on the object (N)
M= the mass of the central object (kg)
m= the mass of the orbiting object (kg)
G= Universal Gravitational Constant: 6.67 * 10
11
r = distance of m from centre of M (m)
On a planetary scale, say the moon
and the earth, the moon and the
earth will have their own
gravitational fields, and are
directed towards their centres,
however the earth will have a
larger gravitational field than the
moon. If illustrated there would be
a null point where there is no
gravitational field. The gravitational
fields strength is indicated by field
lines, the closer the field lines, the
stronger the gravitational field is.
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What is the force due to gravitational attraction between a boy of mass 80kg and his
girlfriend of mass 60kg standing 10m apart?
Using Newtons formula of Universal Gravitation and weight force (gravitational force on
a mass while Newtons formula of Universal Gravitation is the force between any two
masses) a formula for gravity can be derived.
2
2
r
GM
g
r
GMm
mg
=
=
 Discuss the importance of Newtons Law of Universal Gravitation in understanding and
calculating the motion of satellites
Satellites orbiting the earth via uniform circular motion must have a centripetal force to
keep the satellite in orbit. In this case the force is force due to gravitational acceleration.
Therefore equating the centripetal force of an object in orbit with Newtons Law of
Universal Gravitation, we get:
r
GM
V
r
GMm
r
mv
F F
g c
=
=
=
2
2
What is the orbital velocity required by a 5000kg satellite to orbit the Earth at an
altitude of 36,000km?
A satellite orbiting the Earth is carrying out a uniform circular motion. The net force
acting on the satellite is the centripetal force. The Earths gravitational attraction
provides this centripetal force in keeping the satellite in orbiting to Newtons Law
Universal Gravitation attraction. By equating these 2 formulas, we can derive Keplers
third law.
g = acceleration due to gravity (ms
2
)
Universal Gravitational Constant: 6.67 * 10
11
M= the mass of the central object planet (kg)
r = radius of planet (m)
From this formula, the velocity(ms
1
) required for the satellite
to stay in orbit can be calculated which can be affected by the
central mass (M) and radius of the central mass (R). This leads
to a better understanding in the motion of satellites.
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
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2 2
3
2 2
2
2
2
2
2
4
4
..
2
t
t
t
e
GM
T
r
r
GM
T
r
r
GM
r
T
r
GM
r
g a
mg ma
F F
g c
=
=
=

.

\

=
=
=
=
2 2
3
2
2 2
4
4
2
t
t
t
GM
T
r
r
GM
T
r
r
GM
T
r
=
=
=
Calculate the orbital altitude of a geostationary satellite.
) (
If Jupiters moon Ganymede has an orbital radius of 1.1 * 10
6
km, what is the orbital
radius and orbital velocity of another moon, Io, which has quarter the period
ofGanymede? (Mass of Jupiter is 1.9 * 10
27
kg)
()
Also by
equating the
two escape
velocity
methods,
Keplers third
law can be
derived.
r = radius of the orbit from the centre of the central body (m)
T = time for one orbit (seconds)
G = Universal Gravitational Constant: 6.67 * 10
11
M = mass of central body (kg)
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 Identify that a slingshot effect can be provided by planets for space probes
A spacecraft traveling through the solar system could gain extra velocity using gravity
assist of other planets.
The total momentum of the planet and the spacecraft is also conserved. The planet
imparts momentum to the spacecraft and the spacecraft imparts equal and opposite
momentum to the planet.This interaction causes the planet to slow down only slightly
because of its large mass while the spacecraft gains substantial velocity. Thus the
slingshot effect can be used to provide a boost in speed without the usage of fuel.
When the space craft flies past a
planet, the planets gravity
captures the spacecraft and
slingshots the space craft. This
interaction can be considered as
inelastic interaction between the
planet and the spacecraft. Since
there is no direct collision, no
kinetic energy is lost in other
forms.
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Many factors have to be taken into account to achieve a successful
rocket launch, maintain a stable orbit and return to Earth
 Describe the tractor of an object undergoing projectile motion within the Earths
gravitational field in terms of horizontal and vertical components
An object moving freely under the force of gravity is called a projectile. Projectiles are
projected into the air and then left to complete their unpowered flight. A rocket is NOT a
projectile as a thrust is involved. Throughout the flight the projectile is subject to just
one force the force of gravity, and just one acceleration acceleration due to gravity.
The trajectory of a projectile is the path it follows during a flight in the gravitational
field. A short range and low rise projectile follows a parabolic path if the resistance due
to air is ignored.
A projectile could be analysed as two independent motions: horizontal and vertical. The
horizontal component is a constant acceleration motion while the vertical component is
a constant velocity (no acceleration) motion. During the flight, both components act at
the same time. The trajectory or the resulting path is a parabola.
Horizontal motion Vertical motion Conventional formula
0 =
x
a
g a
y
=
x x
u v =
t a u v
y y y
+ =
at u v + =
t u x
x
= A
2
t a t u y
y y
+ = A
2
2
1
at ut s + =
2 2
x x
u v =
y a u v
y y y
A + = 2
2 2
as u v 2
2 2
+ =
Velocity at any time:Magnitude:
2 2
y x
v v v + = Direction:
Note: The velocity of theHorizontal component and the acceleration of the vertical
component remain constant throughout the motion.
y
x
o
V
Ux = V cos o
Uy = V sino
At the top of the trajectory
v
y
= 0 and v
x
= V cos o
v
y
= 0 and v
x
= V cos o
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
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A coin is flicked horizontally with a speed from the top of a table while another identical
coin is simultaneously dropped from the same point. Both coins hit the horizontal
ground simultaneously. The experiment is repeated with the higher speed of projection.
Both coins hit the ground simultaneously. This demonstrates that the vertical motion is
independent of the horizontal motion.
Time t (s)
Horizontal displacement (x) Vertical Displacement (y)
Disp. (x) First difference Disp. (y) First difference Second difference
0
0
0
3
1
1
3
1
2
3
3
2
6
4
2
3
5
3
9
9
Note:
o First difference of the xdisplacement is constant, showing constant horizontal
velocity. Variation of xdisplacement with time is linear.
o Second difference of the ydisplacement is constant, showing parabolic variation
with time. Therefore, ydisplacement is parabolic with xdisplacement.
 Describe Galileos analysis of projectile motion
Galileopostulatedthatallobjects fall at the same rate (9.8ms
2
at sea
level)regardlessoftheirmass,fallatthesame
rate.Inotherwords,theaccelerationduetogravityisthesameforallobjects.
Thisisonlytrueifairresistancecanbeignored.Experimentsbasedon
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droppingdifferentobjectsprovedinconclusive,astheydropsofastandair resistance
hasgreatereffectthananticipated,soGalileodevelopedamethodof
rollingballsdownhighlypolishedrampsinordertomakehiscomparisons.This
enabledhimtoslowdownthemotionenoughtomakemoreaccurate
observationsofthemotion.Subsequently,heusedtrigonometrytocalculatethe
valueofacceleration.
Fromthis,heshowedthatanobjectdroppedwithnoinitialvelocityandan
objectprojectedhorizontallyfromthesameheightwillhitthegroundatthe
sametime,sowouldobjectsofdifferentmass.Galileoalsoproposedtheideaofinertialframeso
freferenceandheldthatwithineachframethelawsofmotionheld.Withthisidea,hewasableto
resolve projectilemotionintotwoperpendicularmotionswithdifferentvelocitiesand
forcesactinguponthem,viavectorresolution.Thenetmotionataninstantcan
beproducedbyadditionofvectorsjustasinanyinertialframeofreference.
 Solve problems and analyse information to calculate the actual velocity of a projectile
from its horizontal and vertical components
If a cannon ball fired from the ground at 60 to the horizontal is to hit a target on
a34m high hill, 45m away from the cannon, with what initial velocity should the
cannon be fired?
x y
s 45 34
.
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u v cos60 v sin60
v v cos60 ?
a 0 9.8
t ? ?
A projectile has a time of flight of 7.5s and a range of 1200m. Calculate:
a. Its horizontal velocity
.
b. Its maximum height
( )
c. The velocity with which it is projected
at to the horizontal.
 Perform a firsthand investigation, gather information and analyse data to calculate
initial and final velocity, maximum height reached, range and time of flight of a projectile
for a range of situations by using simulations, data loggers and computer analysis
To calculate the initial and final velocity, maximum height reached, range and time of
flight of a projectile we can use a video camera and grid. A projectile is launched in front
of a grid which is filmed by a video camera. The film can then be downloaded to a
computer where it can be analysed accurately.
The diagram below shows a stroboscopic image (i.e. at regular intervals of time). From
this image and the grid we can analyse the projectiles motion. The grid is 100mm by
100mm and each image has been taken at 0.1 second intervals.
Range = 16 * 100 mm = 1.6 m
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Maximum height reached = 5.5 * 100 mm = 0.55 m
Time of flight = 16 * 0.1 = 1.6 s
To calculate the initial and final velocity, we calculate the vertical and horizontal
components of the velocity at the start and end instants and these components can be
converted into magnitudedirection vectors. However since we cannot calculate the
instantaneous velocity, we can take an average over a few frames. The more frames we
use, the more accurate the measurements will be, but the less valid the results will be as
the velocity is changing (it should be noted that the horizontal velocity component will
be constant if air resistance is ignored).
 Explain the concept of escape velocity in terms of the gravitational constant and mass
and radius of the planet
Escape velocity is the minimum velocity of projection such that the projectile fired from
the surface of a planet escapes the planets gravitational field and does not return to the
planet.To calculate this, we consider the loss in kinetic energy, and the gain in GPE, due
to conservation of energy, assuming the projectile interacts with no other masses or
forces. As the object comes to rest at an infinite distanceits gain in gravitational
potential energy equals its loss in kinetic energy. Thus,
Rearranging:
It can be seen that the escape velocity of a projectile depends on the Universal
gravitational constant (G), the mass of the planet (m
c
) and the radius of orbit (r) and that
it does NOT depend on the mass of the projectile.
Calculate Earths escape velocity.
It is also worth noting that this is a hypothetical concept only. It would not be possible to
successfully perform such a launch for two reasons:
o Trying to travel through the Earths dense lower atmosphere at this speed would
produce an enormous amount of heat, sufficient to vaporise the projectile.
o Any living organism or delicate equipment would be crushed by the enormous
gforcescreatedbytheprocessofsuddenlybeingacceleratedto11200ms
1
.
 Outline Newtons concept of escape velocity
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Newton imagined that a cannon ball fired horizontally from the top of a mountain would
curve down and fall to the ground at a certain distance. If the speed of projection is
increased then it would fall further away on the surface. If the speed is increased further
and further, there would be a speed that the ball falls at the same rate as the earth
surface falls. Therefore ball would follow the curvature of the earth and come round a
complete circle. If the ball is fired much faster than this speed the ball would escape into
the space and never return. The minimum speed of projection is called the escape
velocity.
 Identify why the term g forces is used to explain the forces acting on an astronaut
during launch
gforce is the ratio of the apparent weight to the normal weight of an astronaut. This
term is used to compare the apparent weight due to acceleration to the normal weight.
( )
 High gforce: Experienced by an astronaut during launch and reentry.
o Problems:Dizziness and blackout during acceleration towards head, loss
of peripheral and colour vision.
V > Escape velocity
V =Escape velocity
V < Escape velocity
Calculate the g force
acting on an astronaut
who is in a rocket taking
off with an initial
acceleration of 19.6 ms
2
.
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 Zero gforce (weightlessness):Experienced during free fall (an astronaut in an
orbiting satellite).
o Problems: Sustained weightlessness results in loss of bone density and
problems with liquid retention. Also causes problems with logistics.
 Discuss the effect of the Earths orbital motion and its rotational motion on the launch of
a rocket
o Other factors affecting the acceleration of the rocket during launch: As the altitude
increases, the acceleration due to gravity decreases. Hence, the acceleration of the
rocket would increase as it ascends.
 Analyse the changing acceleration of a rocket during launch in terms of the
o Law of Conservation of Momentum
o Forces experienced by astronauts
Newtons third law applies to rockets in space or in atmosphere, and it is the
combustion of rocket fuel which propels the rocket forward, as gases move one way and
the rocket moves the other.
Thrust is an example of how the Law of Conservation of Momentum can be used to
analyse rocket motion. The initial momentum of the rocket and its fuel is zero.
Therefore: 0
( )
( )
Calculate the initial acceleration and the maximum of a 10 000
kg rocket (including 8 000 kg of fuel) which exerts a constant
thrust of 200 000N.
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From this point onwards, the mass of the rocket decreases as the fuel is consumed while
the thrust is constant. As described above, if the mass of the rocket decreases during
flight and the thrust remains constant, the acceleration of the rocket (and astronauts)
increases. If it were to exceed safe limits, the engines can be shut off for an instant to
slow down the acceleration. Thus, the acceleration increases and reaches maximum
values just before the rocket exhausts the fuel.
At this time a single stage rocket will become a projectile and fall back to Earth after a
time. In a multistage rocket, however, the first stage is jettisoned; further lowering
mass, and before the second stage fires, there is a brief moment of zero acceleration, or
weightlessness. The second stages soon fires and develops enough thrust to exceed the
weight at that altitude and then the rocket starts to accelerate again. At the end of the
second stage, the acceleration and velocity is at its maximum before it is lost. If there
are more stages, the process is repeated as necessary.
During the liftoff process, the astronaut experiences great gforces, and thus
discomfort. For this reason, the astronaut is provided with a moulded acceleration couch
similar to that used in racing cars, to reduce impulse. The astronaut is also facing
upwards, to reduce the eyeballsout effect, and overall the strain is placed on the back
rather than the stomach, increasing comfort.
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Principal of Conservation of Momentum:
() ( )
Expanding:
Rearranging:
( )
but ( )
dividing by
but
Thrust is dependent on the rate of burning fuel and the velocity of the exhaust.
A rocket of total mass, including the fuel, is 40000 kg, is cruising in deep space at a
speed of 200 ms
1
. Its engines burnt out 2000 kg of fuel for the next 10 seconds and
ejects out at 1200 ms
1
, relative to the rocket. Calculate the approximate velocity of
the rocket after the fuel is burnt out.
40000200 = [38000v
2
] [2000(1200200)]
V
2
= [(40000200) + (20001000)] 38000
V
2
= 263 ms
1
.
(1200200 ms
1
)
ms
1
200ms
1
40000 kg
V
2
38000 kg
200
0
t = 0
t = 10
s
v
o
v
Mass: M
v+Av
Mass: MAM
AM
Time: t = 0 Time: t = A t
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
23
Multistage Rockets: In a multistage rocket, the burntout boosters are dropped away
so that the accelerating mass of the rocket is reduced for the next stage of burning. This
would result in greater acceleration during the next stage. This means that a given
payload can be sent into orbit with less fuel. However, there is an extra cost of building
two engines and the complexity of two engines makes it less reliable.
Acceleration of a rocket during launch
gforce on an astronaut during launch
Velocity of a rocket during launch
Time
First stage
Second stage
Thrust
Thrust
Thrust / velocity
Velocity
Acceleration
Time
First stage
Second
stage
Thrust
Thrust
Thrust/gforce
Time
First stage
Second
stage
Thrus
t
Thrus
t
Thrust / acceleration
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
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 Analyse the forces involved in uniform circular motion for a range of objects, including
satellites orbiting the Earth
Uniform Circular Motion: An object moving in a circle with a constant speed. Object
changes its velocity as the direction changes although the magnitude does not changes.
Therefore the object accelerates.When a body is undergoing uniform circular motion (such as
when in orbit), then the magnitude of the force is constant and the direction it is acting is always
towards the centre of the orbit. The magnitude of the velocity of an orbiting body is constant,
but the direction is changing.
Period:
Centripetal Force:
Examples of forces involved in uniform circular motion:
o Stone at the end of a sting is whirled. The force is provided by the tension in the
string.
o A conical pendulum. The component of the tension in the string effects the
acceleration.
o An electron orbiting the nucleus. The centripetal force is the electrostatic force
of attraction between the negative electron and the positive nucleus.
o Planets orbiting the sun. The gravitational force between the sun and the planet
keeps the planet in orbit.
o Satellite orbiting the earth. The gravitational force between the earth and the
satellite keeps the satellite in orbit.
 Solve problems and analyse information to calculate centripetal force acting on a
satellite undergoing uniform circular motion about the Earth
Calculate the centripetal force and acceleration acting on a 3000kg satellite orbiting
the Earth at an altitude of 250km with a velocity of 27 800 kmph.
r
v
F
c
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
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 Compare qualitatively low Earth and geostationary orbits
Geostationary orbit Low earth orbit
Period 24 hours About 90 minutes
Position
Altitude
35800 km
(Just above the upper Van
Allen radiation belt)
250 to 1000 km
(Below the inner
Van Allen radiation
belt)
Appearance
Parked. That is, it appears
stationary relative to the
earth.
Frequently
obscured by the
earth curvature.
Velocity
r
GM
v
orb
=
Approximately 11160
kmh
1
(3100 ms
1
)
Approximately
27900 km h
1
(7.75
ms
1
)
Orbital decay
Does not suffer orbital
decay
Suffers orbital
decay
Uses
As a communication
satellite: up and down link
can be maintained
throughout day and night
For weather
prediction and
resources mapping.
Used for astronomical
observation since the
observations are not
affected by atmospheric
absorption.
Communication
signal
Strength Powerful signal is needed
Moderately
powerful signal is
sufficient
Effect of Van
Allen
Radiation
belt
Both belts affect the
communication.
Not affected by the
radiation belts.
 Define the term orbital velocity and the quantitative relationship between orbital
velocity, the gravitational constant, mass of the satellite and the radius of the orbit using
Keplers law of Periods, solve problems and analyse information
Centripetal force is provided by the gravitational force between the satellite and the
Earth.
Orbital velocity:
hence
Therefore
Thus orbital velocity is given as:
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
26
Orbital velocity depends on the radius of orbit and the mass of the planet (or central
object). It does NOT depend on the mass of the satellite.
Rearranging:
*Keplers law+
The following form of Keplers law can be used to compare two orbits. Any consistent units can
be used.
 Account for the orbital decay of satellites in low Earth orbit
o Increase in incoming solar radiation (fluctuations in solar wind) can heat up outer
atmosphere causing it to expand, thereby increasing its density and height.
o This will subject satellites to drag that otherwise wouldnt have been anticipated
o Friction with outer fringes of the atmosphere results in a loss of energy, which
means that current orbit, is no longer viable, and satellite drops to an altitude
that corresponds with this new, lower energy. It will be moving faster due to its
lower altitude, with kinetic energy derived from the lost potential energy.
o The atmosphere is denser in this lower orbit, so the process occurs more rapidly,
leading to greater friction and loss of energy.
o This is the process of orbital decay, and it is cyclic, as the satellites new lower
orbit resides in slightly denser atmosphere, which leads to further friction and
loss of energy. The process is not only continuous but speeds up as time goes on.
Eventually it reaches ~200km, and in this process of reentry the heat often
becomes too great and the satellite disintegrates, often splitting up.
 Discuss issues associated with safe reentry into the Earths atmosphere and landing on
the Earths surface
Excess heat:
 The considerable kinetic and potential
energy possessed by an orbiting
spacecraft must be lost during re
entry. As the atmosphere decelerates
the spacecraft, the energy is
converted into a great deal of heat
(due to atmospheric friction).
 Spacecraft with a blunt nose produce
a shockwave of air in front of them,
which absorbs much of the frictional
heat (this is why space shuttles re
enter the atmosphere belly first).
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
27
 Ablation layer vaporises, or ablates, under extreme heat, dissipating the heat of
reentry
 Exterior of space shuttle is covered with porous silica tiles, which dont ablate,
but dissipate heat very well [90% air (good insulator), and conserves mass]
 Heat can be minimised by taking longer to reenter or flying in braking ellipses,
thereby lengthening the time over which energy is converted to heat.
Decelerating g forces
o Extending the reentry and slowing the rate of descent minimizes g forces (re
entry angle is controlled to avoid high g forces)
o Astronauts are reclined in contoured couches, facing the direction of
acceleration (upwards during reentry), because transverse g loads and eyeballs
in force are easier to cope with longitudinal g loads and eyeballs out forces
Ionisation blackout:
Heat building up around spacecraft during reentry ionises atoms around it,
forming a layer which radio signals cannot penetrate, and preventing
communication. Space shuttle suffers longer 16 minute blackout because of slow
rate of descent.
Reaching the surface
o Even after surviving the issues listed above, the spacecraft must touch down
softly onto the surface of the Earth.
Early Russian capsules had parachutes to slow the capsule until
astronauts could eject and parachute to Earth
Early American craft slowed with parachutes and soft landed in the ocean
o Space Shuttle is unpowered, and so has only one chance at landing on a landing
strip
Shuttle must be accurately guided, against drag and lift forces causing
spacecraft to deviate from trajectory
Space shuttle is designed with lift like an aero plane so it can be
controlled during descent and landing
 Identify that there is an optimum angle for safe reentry for a manned spacecraft into
the Earths atmosphere and the consequences of failing to achieve this angle
In order to reenter the Earths atmosphere, a spacecraft must deliberately lose velocity
in such a way that it strikes the atmosphere in an optimum angle. For Apollo capsules
this angle was between 5.2 and 7.2 , although this would differ for other spacecraft.
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
28
o If angle is less than 5.2the spacecraft may skip off the atmosphere and go into
deep space, due to the compression of the atmosphere below it similar to rock
skipping off a pond
o If angle is larger than 7.2 the angle is too steep, the heatof reentry and the g
forces produced may be too great to ensure the survival of the spacecraft and its
occupants.
 Identify data sources, gather, analyse and present information on the contribution of
Werner von Braun to the development of space exploration
He then became the chief architect for the Saturn V rockets.These Saturn V rockets
were used to launch the crew of Apollo 11, who became the first men to set foot on the
moon. He was also involved in the development of Skylab, the worlds first space
station. Furthermore, von Braun was instrumental in popularizing the concept of space
travel. He also improved public perception of the space program, by working on
television programs with Disney studios about space travel. He is regarded as the father
of the United States Space Program.
Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun contributed
significantly to space exploration. Initially,
his work on rocket led to the development
of the German V2 rockets due to political
pressures, and Intercontinental Ballistic
Missile. However, after the end of WWII,
von Braun went to USA. USAs
consideration that there was much
political/military advantage to be gained by
being the first in space exploration led to
the Space Race between USA and the
Soviet Union. He was appointed Head of
NASAs Marshall Space Flight Centre.
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
29
Current and emerging understanding about time and space has
been dependent upon earlier models of the transmission of light
 Outline the features of the aether model for the transmission of light
During the nineteenth century, physicists were certain that light was a waveform.
o Light rays could interfere with each other to produce a diffraction pattern, which
was a wave property
o James Clerk Maxwell produced a set of equations which showed that electric and
magnetic fields could move together as waves through space at the speed of light
They assumed that, like all other known waveforms, light waves needed a medium
through which to travel to us from the Sun and other stars.
No medium could be found, and so one was hypothesised, along with a set of expected
properties. It was called the luminiferous aether. The ether,
o Filled all of space
o Had low density
o Was perfectly transparent
o Permeated all matter and was completely permeable to material objects
o Had great elasticity to support and propagate light waves
 Describe and evaluate the MichelsonMorley attempt to measure the relative velocity of
the Earth through the aether; interpret the results of the MichelsonMorley experiment
Aim: To measure the velocity of the Earth relative to the Aether (and indirectly proving
the existence of the Aether)
The reflected beams recombined at the halfsilvered mirror. When the recombined
beam was viewed through a spectroscope an interference fringe (bright and dark)
pattern was observed. When the whole apparatus was rotated by 90
0
the fringe pattern
was expected to shift by 0.4 of a fringe separation. This shift was expected because the
In 1887, Michelson and Morley
attempted to detect any difference
in speed of light in two direction;
one in the direction of the aether
wind and the other perpendicular
to it. A light beam was split into
two beams by a halfsilvered mirror
into two perpendicular directions.
The split beams were then
reflected back by two mirrors at
equal distances from the half
silvered mirror.
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
30
beam traveling perpendicular to the aether wind was expected to reach the
spectroscope earlier than the one traveling parallel to the wind. No such shift was
observed. The null result led to two conclusions:
 The aether did not exist
 The speed of light was the same for all observers.
 Discuss the role of MichelsonMorley experiments in making determinations about
competing theories
o Belief in aether posed a problem for the Principle of Relativity. Since, the speed of
light was supposed to be fixed relative to the aether, an optical experiment to
measure the speed of light within a reference frame provides a way to determine the
frames velocity relative to the aether, and hence violate the Principle of Relativity.
o Einstein realised that if Principle of Relativity was not to be violated, speed of light
must be constant for all observers regardless of their motion. This meant that time
and distance are relative, depending on the motion of an observer.
o Therefore, null result of the MichelsonMorley experiment showed that speed of light
was constant regardless of the velocity of an observer, countering the aether model.
The experiment provided an observational proof of Einsteins theory which rendered
the aether idea superfluous.
 Perform an investigation to help distinguish between noninertial and inertial frames of
reference
A pen is dropped in front of a person standing in a train stopping at a station. It falls
directly down in front of him. Now the experiment is repeated when the train moves at
a constant velocity at a straight level track. The person in the train dropping the pen sees
the pen falls directly down in front of him. The same experiment is repeated when the
train speeds up or slows down. The pen falls behind or forward of the person
respectively. A train at rest or moving at a constant velocity, the physics of the falling
pen seen by the observer in the rain was the same. The physics of the falling pen in the
accelerating or decelerating train was different to the one in the stopped train or the
train moving at constant velocity.
 Outline the nature of inertial frames of reference
An inertial frame of reference is:
 Moving at constant velocity or is stationary (does NOT accelerate)
 One in which a free body experiences no acceleration
 One in which Newtons first law is valid: an object at rest remains at rest, and an
object in motion remains in motion unless acted upon by an external force
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
31
e.g. An astronaut orbiting the Earth, A spaceship in the vacuum of space far from any
celestial body
 Discuss the principle of relativity
o The principle of relativity was first stated by Galileo and embodied in Newtons first
law.
The fundamental laws of physics are the same in all inertial frames of reference.
Therefore, it is not possible to perform an experiment within an inertial frame of
reference to detect the motion of the frame of reference
Hence you cannot tell whether an inertial frame of reference is stationary or
moving with constant velocity
o The only way to detect the motion of an inertial frame of reference is by referring
to another frame of reference. For example, if you are in a spacecraft far from any
planet, star or other object, then you cannot tell if you are moving.
Einsteins postulates for Special Relativity:
Laws of physics are the same in all inertial frames.
The speed of light is the same for all observers, regardless of their motion.
 Describe the significance of Einsteins assumption of the constancy of the speed of light
o Einsteins assumption of the constancy of the speed of light regardless of the
motion of an observer explained the null result of the MichelsonMorley experiment
o Rendered the aether model superfluous
o Logically resulted in relative space and time
Direct evidence of constancy of speed of light: In 1964, the proton accelerator at CERN
was used to produce a beam of neutral particles called pions (t
0
) which decay rapidly
into two gamma rays. The gamma rays are EM waves that travel at the speed of light. The
experiment measured directly the speed of gamma rays emitted by the decaying pions,
which were moving at a speed of 0.99975c. According to Galileo, the speed of the gamma
rays in the direction of the pions should have c + 0.99975c = 1.99975c. But the measured
speed was 2.997710
8
ms
1
. This provided direct verification of the Einsteins second
postulate.
 Identify that if c is a constant then space and time become relative
 In Newtonian physics, space can be relative, but time is an absolute quantity passing
at the same rate everywhere
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
32
 In the theory of relativity, which assumes that c is constant for all observers, time is
relative as well as space.
 V = distance/time: Therefore, if the velocity of light is to be a constant c, then
distance and time observed must be relative.
 Time and space observed for an event must be changed depending on the motion of
an observer, so that observers within reference frames which are moving at a
constant velocity with respect to each other will observe the same value for the
speed of light. In other words, time passes differently for different observers,
depending upon how fast they are moving.
 Perception of length is also different for an observer in relative motion to the rest
frame.
 As neither space nor time are absolute, any event will have four dimensions to fully
define its position within its frame of reference.
 Discuss the concept that length standards are defined in terms of time in contrast to the
original metre standard
o Original metre standard: One metre was defined as ten millionth of the distance of
the length of Earths quadrant passing through Paris. This arc was surveyed and
three platinum standards were made. This was later redefined as the distance
between two marks scribed on a single bar of platinumiridium alloy.
o Current metre standard: Current definition uses the constancy of speed of light,
which is 299792458 ms
1
. One metre is now defined as the distance traveled by light
in a vacuum during the time interval of
of a second (a second is 9 129 631
770 oscillations of a
133
Cs Atom).
 Analyse and interpret some of Einsteins thought experiments involving mirrors and
trains and discuss the relationship between thought and reality
Thought and reality can be used together to explore new scientific ideas.
o Reality is the physical world, the source of observations of which scientists strive to
find explanations. Reality has limitations including time, cost, materials, conditions
difficult to change.
o Thought acts as a drawing board where ideas can be explored without the
limitations of reality. However,
It is difficult to express with others unlike reality
Ideas cannot be proven by ones thoughts alone, but need to be confirmed in
reality
What you imagine is based upon your common sense, that is, your collective
experiences of the way things normally happen.
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
33
Einstein used thought experiments to investigate situations that could not be tested in
reality since experiments at near lightspeed velocities are impossible with current
technologies. The question he put forward was:
Imagine that you are sitting in a train facing forwards. The train is moving at the speed
of light. You hold up a mirror in front of you, at arms length. Will you be able to see your
reflection in the mirror?
The experiment could have one of two possible outcomes:
No, the reflection will not appear. This is the result predicted by the aether model,
since light can only travel at a set speed (3 10
8
ms
1
) through the aether. If the train
is travelling at that speed then the light cannot catch the mirror to return as a
reflection. Unfortunately, this violates the principle of relativity, which states that in
an inertial frame of reference you cannot perform any experiment to tell that you
are moving.
Yes, the reflection will be seen because, according to the principle of relativity, it
would not be possible for the person in the train to do anything to detect the
constant motion with which he or she is travelling. However, a person watching this
from the side of the track should see the light from your face travelling at twice its
normal speed!
Einstein decided that:
The reflection will be seen as normal, because he believed that the principle of
relativity should always hold true
The person at the side of the track sees the light travelling normally. BUT, this means
that time passes differently for you on the train and for the person at the side of the
track
Confirmation of these conclusions in reality:
The flying of atomic clocks to determine the existence of time dilation
The dilated lifetimes of muons penetrating the Earths atmosphere
The energy yield from converted mass in nuclear reactions
The observed increase in the mass of particles accelerated to nearlight speed in
particle accelerators
 Explain qualitatively and quantitatively the consequences of special relativity in relation
to:
o The relativity of simultaneity
Simultaneous events in one frame of reference are not necessarily observed to be
simultaneous in a different frame of reference. For example:
Two flashes occur at equal distances from a stationary observer, who sees the two
flashes simultaneously occurring. Another person is moving at a relativistic speed
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
34
between the sites of the two flashes. The stationary observer sees the two flashes
occurring simultaneously when the moving person just passes him. But the moving
observer sees the flash ahead of him first and the one behind him later. This is
because the light from the flash ahead has to travel shorter distance and the light
from the flash behind has to travel longer distance but at the same speed. The
simultaneous flashes for the stationary observer are not simultaneous for the
moving observer.
o The equivalence between mass and energy
The rest mass of an object is equivalent to a certain quantity of energy. Mass can
be converted into energy under extraordinary circumstances and energy can be
converted into mass
For example, part of the mass is converted into energy in nuclear fission
reactions. When a particle and its antiparticle collide, the entire mass is
converted into energy.
The energy yield from converted mass in nuclear reactions (E=mc
2
)
In Special Relativity, the Law of Conservation of Energy and the Law of
Conservation of Mass have been replaced by the Law of Conservation of Mass
Energy.
Calculate the rest energy of a 5kg bowling ball.
o Length contraction
A train travels at relativistic speed of v ms
1
. A person inside the train flashes a light
from the rear on to a mirror on the front, d
0
metres from the source. He measures
the time for the light to reach the mirror and back to the source. This time is:
. An observer on the platform sees the train moving as the light is traveling
from the source to the mirror. The stationary observer measures the time for the
light to travel to the mirror as
. During his time the light has travelled, with the speed c m
1
, a distance:
+
+
= + =
But
2
2
1
0
c
v
v
t
t
=
. Therefore,
2 2
0
2
1
2
2
v c
cd t
t
v
c
v
v
=
We know that
c
d
t
0
0
2
=
2
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
0
2 2
0
c
v
v
v
c
v
d d
v c
cd
c
d
=
.
The length of an object measured within its rest frame is called its proper length (L
o
).
Observers in different reference frames in relative motion will always measure the
length (L
v
) to be shorter. The shortening of an object occurs in the direction of its
motion as observed from a reference frame in relative motion.
The length contraction formula is given by
What is the apparent length of a 150m spaceship travelling at 0.6 c?
1 1 v v v
t v d t c + =
Stationary
observer
d
v
v ms
1
2 2 v v v
t v d t c =
c
d
t
0
0
2
=
v ms
1
d
0
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
36
o Time dilation
A train travels at relativistic speed of v ms
1
. A person inside the train flashes a light
on to a mirror on the roof, y metres above the source. He measures the time for the
light to reach the mirror: This time is:
. Therefore,
Squaring both sides:
The time taken for an event to occur within its rest frame is called the proper time
(t
o
). Observers in different reference frames in relative motion will always judge the
time taken (t
v
) to be longer.
An astronaut travelling at 0.5c takes 10 hours ship time to reach his
destination. Calculate how much time has passed on Earth.
o Mass dilation
When a mass is accelerated, it gains speed. But it cannot exceed the speed of light. .
As an object is accelerated close to the speed of light its mass increases. The more
massive it becomes, the more energy has to be used to give it the same
acceleration, making further acceleration more and more difficult. The energy that
Stationary
observer
y
y
x
v ms
1
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
37
is put into attempted acceleration is instead converted into mass. The total energy
of an object is then its kinetic energy plus the energy embodied in its mass.
A neutral pion has a rest mass of 2.410
28
kg. It decays into two photons. The
energy of these two photons were found to be exactly equal to that predicted by
the Einsteins formula E=mc
2
. Conversion of energy into mass is evidenced in
nuclear fusion and fission reactions.
Calculate the mass of proton of mass 1.673 * 10
27
kg in a linear accelerator
when it is moving at 0.8c.
 Analyse information to discuss the relationship between theory and the evidence
supporting it, using Einsteins predictions based on relativity that were made many years
before evidence was available to support it
o When Einstein proposed his special theory of relativity in 1905 and his general
theory of relativity in 1915, the technological capability to verify the predictions did
not exist.
o Evidence supporting the Special Theory of Relativity:
The flying of atomic clocks to determine the existence of time dilation
 One of the synchronised clocks was placed in an airplane which
flew at maximum speed. The other stayed on the ground. When
the clocks were brought together again, time on the clock in the
plane had passed more slowly than time for the clock on the
ground
The time dilated lifetimes of muons penetrating the Earths atmosphere
 At the velocities at which cosmic ray muons travel, the travel time
from the top of a mountain to the base is several halflives.
However, the number of muons detected at the base was not
comparably reduced compared to muons detected at the top of
the mountain, because time was passing slower in the muons
frame of reference relative to experimenters.
The energy yield from converted mass in nuclear reactions (energy mass
equivalence: E=mc
2
)
o The observed increase in the mass of particles accelerated to nearlight speed in
particle accelerators (mass dilation)
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
38
o Evidence supporting the General Theory of Relativity:
In 1919, the general theory of relativity was able to be used to explain the
perihelion precession of Mercury.
Observations of star light passing close to the eclipsed Sun confirmed general
relativity's prediction that massive objects bend light. A slight apparent shift in
the position of a star could be accounted for by the General Theory of Relativity
 Discuss the implications of mass increase, time dilation and length contraction for space
travel
The nearest galaxy to us, Andromeda, is about 2 million light years away. If we could
travel at the speed of light it would take us 2 million years to get there. The fastest any
space probe has reached is 150 000 kmph (following the slingshot of the Sun which
involves temperatures humans cannot survive). Even at this speed it would take us more
than 21 billion years to get to Andromeda.
If we could achieve faster speeds, the time dilation and length contraction effects mean
there wouldnt be as far to travel, and it would take much less time to get there than we
think. This is as far as the astronauts are concerned. Relative to the Earth it is still a very
long distance away.
Relativistic mass increases as speed increases. We require an infinite amount of fuel to
produce an infinitely large force to accelerate our spacecraft which is approaching an
infinite mass as it approaches the speed of light. None of this is possible. So with current
technology, space travel outside the Solar System is not feasible.
SPACE Sanjeevan Prabahar
39
Bibliography
Books:
Jacaranda HSC Science: Physics 2
nd
edition, Andrierssen, Michael
Dot Point HSC Physics, Shadwick, Brian
Spotlight HSC Physics, Pemberton, Williams
Excel HSC Physics
Understanding Physics, Yates A.R, Davies P.H, Harding J.W
The Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Science
Websites:
http://webs.mn.catholic.edu.au/physics/emery/physics_hsc.htm
http://northmeadhigh.wikidot.com/physicssummarybookletshsccourse
http://sydney.edu.au/science/uniserve_science/school/curric/stage6/phys/space/
http://hsc.csu.edu.au/physics/core/space/
Notes:
HSC Physics Notes 2007 Module 1 Space Andrew Harvey
HSC Physics Space  Notes David Pham
HSC Physics Class Notes Space  K Selvaraja