1 kilometre ball drop

Someone has just twitted about this brilliant animation. I hope it makes you realise the consequences of different gravitational field strengths.

Thanks to Dr James O’Donoghue, we’ll forgive the American spelling of kilometre!

Space Learning Outcome Questions

Final Space Learning Outcomes.

Sept 2020

SPACE Resources

Space Notes


Sorry I just couldn’t get this to fit on 2 pages. I am sure someone will send it back to me looking beautiful!

Space Mind map, click here for your pdf version

Just heard about this on twitter!

You can read about some of the risks of human spaceflight in the infographic below.

Infographic: Some of the most harrowing space disasters that have occurred.

Source Space.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Here are a few links and documents. Hope you can get access to them.

www.open.edu/History of Universe Timeline

The EM Spectrum and Space

The EM spectrum gives us loads of important information about the world outside our Earth


Launching a Rocket

Want to be a rocket scientist? Can you launch a payload to 400 km in your first go? Don’t forget to have drag on and mass use to be more natural!


Dock with the ISS


March 2022

Cosmology & Space Exploration

Newton’s 3rd Law on the ISS

Lockerbie Academy’s Faulkes Telescope Pictures Some of Lockerbie Academy’s Faulkes Telescope pictures taken by students in the school from 2007.

Here are the posters produced by N5 (2016-2017) They answer the questions posed in the research task document below which was created from the Full Content Check 2016. Check them out. There are still a few to come and some need to be updated. If yours isn’t here then let me know and we’ll update.

research tasks as a pdf file

research tasks as a doc file

Gravity Assist

In orbital mechanics and aerospace engineering, a gravitational slingshot, gravity assist manoeuvre, or swing-by is the use of the relative movement (e.g. orbit around the Sun) and gravity of a planet or other astronomical object to alter the path and speed of a spacecraft. This saves fuel, time, and expense. Gravity assistance can be used to increase or decrease its speed or redirect the path of a spacecraft. The “assist” is provided by the motion of the gravitating body as it pulls on the spacecraft. It was used by interplanetary probes from Mariner 10 onwards, including the two Voyager probes’ notable flybys of Jupiter and Saturn.

A gravity assist around a planet changes a spacecraft’s velocity (relative to the Sun) by entering and leaving the gravitational field of a planet. The spacecraft’s speed increases as it approaches the planet and decreases while escaping its gravitational pull. Because the planet orbits the sun, the spacecraft is affected by this motion during the manoeuver. To increase speed, the spacecraft flies with the movement of the planet (taking a small amount of the planet’s orbital energy); to decrease speed, the spacecraft flies against the movement of the planet. The sum of the kinetic energies of both bodies remains constant.

Gravity Assist

Open Ended Space Question

  1. From your knowledge of energy, what might a space exploration scientist consider when sending a machine to land safely on an extra terrestrial body? The machine must be capable of sending back some intelligible data
  2. Two people are discussing satellite motion one person says:
    “Satellites stay in motion because there is no gravity”
    Using your knowledge of Physics comment on that response.
  3. An astronaut on the international space station was quoted as saying:
    “I sometimes feel like a human cannon ball.”
    Using your knowledge of physics explain why he is like a cannon ball in space.
  4. Recently Voyager 1, one of the first space probes launched by NASA in 1977, has now left our Solar System.
By Voyager_Path.jpg: created by NASAderivative work: Hazmat2 (talk) – Original from http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/multimedia/display.cfm?IM_ID=2143This file was derived fromVoyager Path.jpg:, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18049439

EITHER: Using your knowledge of physics, explain how this space probe was able to reach the outer planets.

OR: Using your knowledge of physics, explain how NASA might know that the probe has now left our Solar System.

OR: Using your knowledge of physics, comment on what happens next to this space probe.

5. A daytime newsreader commented that, “Looking at the stars is like looking back in time.” Use your knowledge of physics to comment on the journalist’s statement.

6. There are many parts of space that are detected by different types of telescope. Use your knowledge of physics to describe one telescope that is used in astronomy.

7. A ball rolls off from a table as shown.

Use your knowledge of physics to comment on what the ball’s horizontal distance from the edge of the table would and would not depend on.

8. A velocity-time graph of skydiver 1 is shown below


A velocity-time graph of skydiver 2is shown below

 Use your knowledge of physics to explain how the second skydiver’s velocity-time graph during descent compares with that of the first skydiver.


Updated 15/09/23

Definitions for Space

These are some very basic definitions for the Space Topic

Universe: Sum total of everything that exists.
Galaxy: A basic building block of the universe that includes stars, star clusters, clouds of gas, dust and interstellar molecules.
Solar System: Is one or more suns surrounded by orbiting planets. Our solar system is composed of the sun, 9 known planets and at least 44 moons, thousands of “minor planets” (asteroids) meteors and perhaps billions of comets.
Sun: Dominant member of a solar system accounts 99% of the mass of the solar system. The sun is a giant star it produces heat and light. A big ball of plasma
Star: Principle components of galaxies. Living stars emit radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum.  Peak depends on the heat of the surface.
Planet: A relatively large body rotating in an elliptical orbit around a sun.
Moon: A natural satellite of a planet i.e. rotates around a planet. Moons do not produce their own light.
Mass: Mass is a measure of the amount of matter in an object. It is measured in kilograms. Wherever you go your mass stays the same.
Weight: Weight is the force of gravity acting on an object pulling it towards the centre of the Earth or any other large mass. Weight is a force and so is measured in Newtons. The weight of an object varies depending on where you are (which planet etc and how far you are from it’s surface, the further away from the surface the smaller is your weight)..
gravitational field strength : gravitational field strength, g, is the weight per unit mass. It is measured in Newtons per kilogram. It is the force of gravity or pull on each kilogram of mass.
Inertia: Inertia is the property of an object which makes it hard to get an object to move, or to stop a moving object. Inertia varies with mass, so the bigger your mass the bigger your inertia..
Acceleration due to gravity: All objects will acceleration due to gravity. On the Earth, close to the surface objects accelerate at 9.8 ms-2 .
Light year: The distance light travels in a year equivalent to 9.46 .

Light does not travel at an infinite speed. It takes time to travel. It is so fast that we do not usually notice, although out in space the distances involved are so big that light takes a reasonable amount of time to reach us.

Light travels at: 3 × 108 ms -1

Given that it takes 8 minutes for light to get from the sun, how far is it away is it from the Earth?

8 × 60  = number of seconds in minutes  = 480s

Each second light travels 3 × 108m

d= v t

d= 3 × 108   × 480  = 1.44 ×1011m

How far does light travel in one year?

1 year  = 365days

365days  × 24 = 8760 hours

8760 ×60 × 60  = 31536000s in one year

Distance travelled in 1 year, d = v t

d = 3 × 108 × 31536000     = 9.46 × 1015 m in one year = one light year

The light year (ly) is the distance light travels in one year.

Light travels at 3 × 108 ms-1

Source Time taken for light

to reach us

Distance (m) Working
Moon 1.2 s 3.6 × 108 1.2 × 3 × 108
Sun 8 min 1.44 × 1011 480 × 3 × 108
Next nearest Star 4.3 y 4.07 × 1016 4.3 × 9.46 × 1015
Other side of galaxy 100 000 y 9.46 × 1020 100 000 × 9.46 × 1015
Andromeda galaxy 2 200 000 yr 2.08 × 1022 2 200 000 × 9.46 × 1015
Continuous Spectra

Many light sources produce a continuous spectrum containing all the wavelengths of visible light, e.g. an ordinary light bulb.

Line Spectra.

Some light sources emit only some wavelengths. They produce a line spectrum. Each line corresponds to a particular wavelength.

Each chemical element has its own line spectrum pattern(so it is like a finger print!)

Line spectra can be varied using a spectro-scope in the classroom.

Line spectra are used to tell us about the chemical composition of the stars.