Newton's cannonball was a thought experiment Isaac Newton used to hypothesize that the force of gravity was universal, and it was the key force for planetary motion. It appeared in his 1687 work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (later editions printed in English as A Treatise of the System of the World).
In this experiment from his book (p. 5-8), Newton visualizes a cannon on top of a very high mountain. If there were no forces of gravitation or air resistance, the cannonball should follow a straight line away from Earth, in the direction that it was fired. If a gravitational force acts on the cannonball, it will follow a different path depending on its initial velocity. If the speed is low, it will simply fall back on Earth. (A and B) for example horizontal speed of 0 to 7,000 m/s for Earth.
If the speed is the orbital speed at that altitude, it will go on circling around the Earth along a fixed circular orbit, just like the Moon. (C) for example horizontal speed of at approximately 7,300 m/s for Earth.
If the speed is higher than the orbital velocity, but not high enough to leave Earth altogether (lower than the escape velocity), it will continue revolving around Earth along an elliptical orbit. (D) for example horizontal speed of 7,300 to approximately 10,000 m/s for Earth.
If the speed is very high, it will leave Earth in a parabolic (at exactly escape velocity) or hyperbolic trajectory. (E) for example horizontal speed of approximately greater than 10,000 m/s for Earth.
An image of the page from the System of the World showing Newton's diagram of this experiment was included on the Voyager Golden Record(image #111).
In physics, a force is any influence that, when unopposed, will change the motion of an object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity, i.e., to accelerate. Force can also be described intuitively as a push or a pull. A force has both magnitude and direction, making it a vector quantity. It is measured in the SI unit of newton (N). Force is represented by the symbol F.
In classical physics and special relativity, an inertial frame of reference is a frame of reference that is not undergoing acceleration. In an inertial frame of reference, a physical object with zero net force acting on it moves with a constant velocity —or, equivalently, it is a frame of reference in which Newton's first law of motion holds. An inertial frame of reference can be defined in analytical terms as a frame of reference that describes time and space homogeneously, isotropically, and in a time-independent manner. Conceptually, the physics of a system in an inertial frame have no causes external to the system. An inertial frame of reference may also be called an inertial reference frame, inertial frame, Galilean reference frame, or inertial space.
Mass is both a property of a physical body and a measure of its resistance to acceleration when a net force is applied. An object's mass also determines the strength of its gravitational attraction to other bodies.
In physics, motion is the phenomenon in which an object changes its position over time. Motion is mathematically described in terms of displacement, distance, velocity, acceleration, speed, and time. The motion of a body is observed by attaching a frame of reference to an observer and measuring the change in position of the body relative to that frame with change in time. The branch of physics describing the motion of objects without reference to its cause is kinematics; the branch studying forces and their effect on motion is dynamics.
In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved trajectory of an object, such as the trajectory of a planet around a star or a natural satellite around a planet. Normally, orbit refers to a regularly repeating trajectory, although it may also refer to a non-repeating trajectory. To a close approximation, planets and satellites follow elliptic orbits, with the center of mass being orbited at a focal point of the ellipse, as described by Kepler's laws of planetary motion.
In physics, escape velocity is the minimum speed needed for a free, non-propelled object to escape from the gravitational influence of a massive body, that is, to eventually reach an infinite distance from it. Escape velocity rises with the body's mass and falls with the escaping object's distance from its center. The escape velocity thus depends on how far the object has already traveled, and its calculation at a given distance takes into account the fact that without new acceleration it will slow down as it travels—due to the massive body's gravity—but it will never quite slow to a stop.
The gravitational constant, denoted by the letter G, is an empirical physical constant involved in the calculation of gravitational effects in Sir Isaac Newton's law of universal gravitation and in Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.
Gravity, or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass or energy—including planets, stars, galaxies, and even light—are attracted to one another. On Earth, gravity gives weight to physical objects, and the Moon's gravity causes the ocean tides. The gravitational attraction of the original gaseous matter present in the Universe caused it to begin coalescing and forming stars and caused the stars to group together into galaxies, so gravity is responsible for many of the large-scale structures in the Universe. Gravity has an infinite range, although its effects become weaker as objects get further away.
In classical mechanics, Newton's laws of motion are three laws that describe the relationship between the motion of an object and the forces acting on it. The first law states that an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless it is acted upon by an external force. The second law states that the rate of change of momentum of an object is directly proportional to the force applied, or, for an object with constant mass, that the net force on an object is equal to the mass of that object multiplied by the acceleration. The third law states that when one object exerts a force on a second object, that second object exerts a force that is equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first object.
In Newtonian physics, free fall is any motion of a body where gravity is the only force acting upon it. In the context of general relativity, where gravitation is reduced to a space-time curvature, a body in free fall has no force acting on it.
In orbital mechanics and aerospace engineering, a gravitational slingshot, gravity assist maneuver, or swing-by is the use of the relative movement and gravity of a planet or other astronomical object to alter the path and speed of a spacecraft, typically to save propellant and reduce expense.
In gravitationally bound systems, the orbital speed of an astronomical body or object is the speed at which it orbits around either the barycenter or, if one object is much more massive than the other bodies in the system, its speed relative to the center of mass of the most massive body.
Newton's law of universal gravitation is usually stated as that every particle attracts every other particle in the universe with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers. The publication of the theory has become known as the "first great unification", as it marked the unification of the previously described phenomena of gravity on Earth with known astronomical behaviors.
A geocentric orbit or Earth orbit involves any object orbiting the Earth, such as the Moon or artificial satellites. In 1997 NASA estimated there were approximately 2,465 artificial satellite payloads orbiting the Earth and 6,216 pieces of space debris as tracked by the Goddard Space Flight Center. Over 16,291 previously launched objects have decayed into the Earth's atmosphere.
A space gun, sometimes called a Verne gun because of its appearance in From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne, is a method of launching an object into space using a large gun- or cannon-like structure. Space guns could thus potentially provide a method of non-rocket spacelaunch. It has been conjectured that space guns could place satellites into Earth's orbit, and could also launch spacecraft beyond Earth's gravitational pull and into other parts of the Solar System by exceeding Earth's escape velocity of about 11.20 km/s. However, these speeds are too far into the hypersonic range for most practical propulsion systems and also would cause most objects to burn up due to aerodynamic heating or be torn apart by aerodynamic drag. Therefore, a more likely future use of space guns would be to launch objects into Low Earth orbit, from where attached rockets could be fired or the objects could be "collected" by maneuverable orbiting satellites.
An interstellar probe is a space probe that has left—or is expected to leave—the Solar System and enter interstellar space, which is typically defined as the region beyond the heliopause. It also refers to probes capable of reaching other star systems.
In classical theories of gravitation, the changes in a gravitational field propagate. A change in the distribution of energy and momentum of matter results in subsequent alteration, at a distance, of the gravitational field which it produces. In the relativistic sense, the "speed of gravity" refers to the speed of a gravitational wave, which, as predicted by general relativity and confirmed by observation of the GW170817 neutron star merger, is the same speed as the speed of light (c).
In common usage, the mass of an object is often referred to as its weight, though these are in fact different concepts and quantities. In scientific contexts, mass is the amount of "matter" in an object, whereas weight is the force exerted on an object by gravity. In other words, an object with a mass of 1.0 kilogram weighs approximately 9.81 newtons on the surface of the Earth, which is its mass multiplied by the gravitational field strength. The object's weight is less on Mars, where gravity is weaker, and more on Saturn, and very small in space when far from any significant source of gravity, but it always has the same mass.
Weightlessness is the complete or near-complete absence of the sensation of weight. This is also termed zero-G, although the more correct term is "zero G-force". It occurs in the absence of any contact forces upon objects including the human body.