The escape speed for an object leaving the surface of any celestial body of mass M and radius d is

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1 8-3 Escape Speed Vocabulary Escape Speed: The minimum speed an object must possess in order to escape from the gravitational pull of a body. In Chapter 6, you worked with gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy. When an object moves away from Earth, its gravitational potential energy increases. Since its total energy is conserved, its kinetic energy decreases. When the object is close to Earth, the gravitational force on it is a fairly constant mg. However, as you know, the gravitational force drops rapidly as you get farther from Earth. If an object moves upward from Earth with enough speed, it will never run out of kinetic energy and will escape from Earth. The escape speed for an object leaving the surface of any celestial body of mass M and radius d is v Notice that the mass of the escaping object does not affect the escape speed. Solved Examples Example 6: Earth has a mass of kg and a radius of km. What is the escape speed of a rocket launched on Earth? Given: M kg Unknown: v? d m Original equation: v G N m 2 /kg 2 Solve: v 11,200 m/s N# m 2 >kg kg2 B m Any rocket trying to escape Earth s gravitational pull must be going at least 11,200 m/s before engine cut-off, in order to get away. Example 7: Compare Example 6 with the escape speed of a rocket launched from the moon. The mass of the moon is kg and the radius is m. Given: M kg Unknown: v? d m Original equation: v G N m 2 /kg Law of Universal Gravitation

2 Solve: v 11 N# m 2 >kg kg m/s B m Notice that you can escape from the moon by traveling much more slowly than you must travel to escape the gravitational pull of Earth. This is why launching a Lunar Module from the moon s surface was so much easier than launching an Apollo spacecraft from Earth. Practice Exercise Exercise 11: How fast would you need to travel a) to escape the gravitational pull of the sun? (M S kg, d S m) b) As the sun begins to die, it will become a red giant. This means that its mass will remain the same but its diameter will increase substantially (perhaps even out as far as Earth s orbit!). When the sun becomes a red giant, will its escape speed be greater than, less than, or the same as it is now? Answer: a. Answer: b. Exercise 12: How fast would the moon need to travel in order to escape the gravitational pull of Earth, if Earth has a mass of kg and the distance from Earth to the moon is m? Answer: Law of Universal Gravitation 107

3 Exercise 13: What is the escape speed needed a) to escape the gravitational pull of Asteroid B612 (see Exercise 7)? b) What would happen if you jumped up on Asteroid B612? Answer: a. Answer: b. Exercise 14: Scotty finds it difficult to play catch on planet Apgar because the planet s escape speed is only 5.00 m/s, and if Scotty throws the ball too hard, it flies away. If planet Apgar has a mass of kg, what is its radius? Answer: Additional Exercises A-1: A-2: Halley s Comet orbits the sun about every 75 years due to the gravitational force the sun provides. Compare the gravitational force between Halley s Comet and the sun when the comet is at aphelion (its greatest distance from the sun) and d is about m to the force at perihelion (or closest approach), where d is about m. In Exercise A-1, what is the comet s acceleration a) at aphelion? b) at perihelion? (M S kg) 108 Law of Universal Gravitation

5 Challenge Exercises for Further Study B-1: B-2: At what distance from Earth s center must a spacecraft be in order to experience the same gravitational attraction from both Earth and the moon when directly between the two? (M E kg, M M kg, d E M m) Jupiter s innermost Galilean satellite, Io, is covered with active volcanoes, which exist because of the immense gravitational tugging on the satellite by Jupiter and the other moons near Io. Io orbits m from the center of Jupiter. The other Galilean satellites are located as follows from Jupiter s center. Europa: m, Ganymede: m, and Callisto: m. If Jupiter and its satellites are lined up as shown, what gravitational force does the satellite Io experience? (M I kg, M E kg, M G kg, M C kg, M J kg) B-3: Saturn s satellite, Titan, orbits the planet in a little less than 16 days. Titan orbits Saturn at an average distance of m from the center of the planet. Use this information to find the mass of Saturn. 110 Law of Universal Gravitation

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