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# Plab4 - Introductory Mechanics Problems Laboratory Space...

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Introductory Mechanics Problems Laboratory 1 Space Station Goals: Understand the difference between gravity and weight. Manipulate equations to find relative changes. Interpret and apply graphical data. PROBLEM We’ve probabably all seen video of astronauts floating weighless in their space vehicle. Studies of phenomena in a weightless environment are among the most important parts of research in space. The International Space Station (ISS) performs many of these experiments in low orbit around the earth (picture NASA). The ISS orbits about 200 km above the surface of the Earth, or about 6600 km from the center of the Earth. Ideally the ISS stays in a circular orbit at a constant altitude. Even though the Earth provides a gravitational force on the mass in the ISS, the orbital accel- eration results in a weightless condition. However, even at the altitude of the ISS, there is still a little bit of atmosphere that causes a small amount of drag on the ISS. That drag produces a force that results in a small acceleration. Experiments to test weightless conditions may be sensitive to small

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2 Space Station amounts of weight, so the ISS has sensitive instruments that can measure accelerations equal to a millionth of the acceration due to gravity on Earth’s surface. PROBLEM SKILLS Data for problems is expressed both in numbers and in graphs. Graphs have the advan- tage of presenting a lot of data in one image. Graphs also are useful for identifying the relationships between different parts of a set of data.
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