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Short Description: This activity relates an elastic collision to the change in a satellite's or spacecraft's speed and direction resulting from a planetary fly-by, often called a "gravity assist" maneuver. Both hands-on and online interactive methods are used to explore these topics.
Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: 9-12
Mariner 10 (Mercury)
Science Education Standards:
By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that: Gravitational force is an attraction between masses. The strength of the force is proportional to the masses and weakens rapidly with increasing distance between them. 4G/H1
National Science Education Standards
Motions and Forces
Objects change their motion only when a net force is applied. Laws of motion are used to calculate precisely the effects of forces on the motion of objects. The magnitude of the change in motion can be calculated using the relationship F = ma, which is independent of the nature of the force. Whenever one object exerts force on another, a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction is exerted on the first object.
Gravitation is a universal force that each mass exerts on any other mass. The strength of the gravitational attractive force between two masses is proportional to the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.