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

Continuous Spectra2

Space Exploration Physics

(they’ll take some time to upload so be patient!)

Thermal protection systems

Satellite Periods

Effects of Cosmic Radiation

Risks benefits

Light Year

Observable Universe

Risks with Manned Space Exploration


Understanding of Space

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 file was derived fromVoyager Path.jpg:, Public Domain,

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.


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