A satellite explodes in outer space, far from any other body, sending thousands of pieces in all directions. How does the linear momentum of the satellite before the explosion compare with the total linear momentum of all the pieces after the explosion?

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  1. It is the same. Remember Linear momenum is a vector.

  2. The momentum before and after the explosion is the same. Since there are no external forces acting on the satellite, the law of conservation of momentum states that momentum will not change. Basically the total momentum of the satellite before the explosion is equal to the momentum of all the tiny pieces added together. Keep in mind this really only works in space because on earth there are always external forces acting on something which would affect the momentum.

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