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Trick Question On the surface of the Earth, an astronaut weighs 180 pounds. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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The Mathematics of Weightlessness Trick Question On the surface of the Earth, an astronaut weighs 180 pounds. How much does a weightless astronaut weigh while orbiting the Earth 220 miles above the surface? The Answer Might Surprise You!

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The Mathematics of Weightlessness

Trick Question

On the surface of the Earth, an astronaut weighs 180 pounds.

How much does a weightless astronaut weigh while orbiting the Earth 220 miles above the surface?

The Answer Might Surprise You!

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Answer: The astronaut will weigh about 162 pounds while orbiting in a “weightless” state!

The reason the astronaut is in a weightless state is he/she is constantly in a state of free fall while in orbit.

To calculate the weight of 162 pounds, you multiply the weight on the surface of the Earth by the ratio Wo/We, as determined by Newton’s Law of Gravitation.

This ratio is shown in simplified form below where “x” represents the miles above the surface of the Earth.

For More Info on This Formula and a Weightlessness Calculator, See Weightlessness and Outer Space