36_satellites - Lesson 36: Satellites In our modern world...

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Lesson 36: Satellites In our modern world the world “ satellite ” almost always means a human made object launched into orbit around the Earth for TV or phone communications. This definition of satellites has really only been around since around the 1950’s when the Russians launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1 , into orbit around the Earth. The word satellite actually applies to any object that is in orbit around a (typically) larger object. By this definition, the moon is a satellite of the Earth, and the Earth is a satellite of the sun. The good news is that basic ideas about satellites can be applied to just about any satellite (with some modifications). The basics that you will learn here are the same general ideas that NASA and other space organizations use when launching artificial satellites into orbit, or studying natural satellites. Newton’s Cannon Yep, Newton again! We need to talk about Newton for about the third time in this course, but this should give you an idea of just how much stuff he studied and what a large impact he had on physics. Newton came up with what seems like a very strange idea. He asked the question “ What would happen if we put cannon on a mountain top and shot a cannonball horizontally out of it, faster and faster? From our study of projectile motion, we know that as the horizontal velocity the cannonball will travel a further horizontal distance, but will take the same amount of time to hit the ground. This is assuming we are on totally flat ground, which would look like Illustration 2 … Newton knew the Earth is a sphere and therefore has a curved surface. As the ball travels horizontally , the Earth curves away from the straight horizontal. On the Earth, the path of the cannonball would still look the same, but the Earth would look different (Illustration 3). 7/27/2007
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36_satellites - Lesson 36: Satellites In our modern world...

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