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college physics

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Although astronauts appear weightless, they are not. They only appear weightless because they are in free fall. If a 79 kg astronaut is orbiting Earth with an orbital radius of 5.31×107 m, determine how much the astronaut would weigh. Earth's mass is 5.974 1024 kg.

  • college physics - ,

    Your teacher is misleading you greatly. Be careful. I am wondering if you actually have a physics major teacher.

    I will solve this question: If a 79 kg astronaut is orbiting Earth with an orbital radius of 5.31×107 m, determine how much the astronaut would weigh ON EARTH. Earth's mass is 5.974 1024 kg.

    a) On Earth, the person weights 79*9.8 Newtons.
    Now for this question: If a 79 kg astronaut is orbiting Earth with an orbital radius of 5.31×107 m, determine how much the astronaut would weigh in orbit. Earth's mass is 5.974 1024 kg.

    Answer: zero, the astronaut is in free fall.

    I suspect your teacher has something else in mind, but frankly, I have no idea. If you get many of these, I would drop the class, and get a qualified teacher. Physics is an important subject.

    In orbit, there are two forces working: gravity, and centripetal force. To be weightless, those two are equal. Perhaps your teacher wants you to ignore centripetal force, and just figure the gravity force at that orbital radius. I just don't know.

  • college physics - ,

    Hmm. I thought gravity provided the centripetal force. The object wants to fly off at a tangent, but gravity keeps bending the trajectory.

    Is there another force besides gravity act work?

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