posted by ed on .
In an accidental explosion, a satellite breaks in half while in circular orbit about earth. One half is brought momentarily to rest. What is the fate of the half brought to rest? What happens to the other half?
The half that "stops" falls straight down to Earth, burning up and disintegrating in the process. The other half acquires double the velocity along the direction of motiuon, changing the orbit to an elliptical one with a higher apogee but the same perigee.
1. Because it had lost its horizontal velocity it will crash into the Earth.
2. It requires the momentum lost by the other half so possesses a greater velocity, which will cause it to move into a higher orbit.