## A spacecraft is in a circular Earth orbit at an altitude of 6000 km . By how much will its altitude decrease if it moves to a new circular o

Question

A spacecraft is in a circular Earth orbit at an altitude of 6000 km . By how much will its altitude decrease if it moves to a new circular orbit where (a) its orbital speed is 10% higher or (b) its orbital period is 10% shorter?

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1 year 2021-07-26T14:33:52+00:00 1 Answers 62 views 0

a) 2148 km = 2150 km

b) 840 km

Explanation:

The force keeping the satellite in circular motion is the force given by Netwon’s gravitational law

Centripetal force = (mv²/r)

Force due to Newton’s law of gravitation = (GMm/r²)

where m = mass of satellite

M = mass of the earth

G = Gravitational constant

v = velocity of the satellite

r = radius of circular orbit

(mv²/r) = (GMm/r²)

v² = (GM/r)

Meaning that the square of the velocity of orbit is inversely proportional to the radius of circular orbit. (Since G and M are constants)

v² = (k/r)

when v = v₀, r = 6000 + 6378 = 12,378 km (the radius of orbit = 6000 km + radius of the earth)

v₀² = (k/12,378)

K = 12378v₀²

When the velocity increases by 10%, v₁ = 1.1v₀, the square of the new velocity = (1.1v₀)² = 1.21v₀² and the new radius of orbit = r₁

1.21v₀² = (k/r₁)

r₁ = (k/1.21v₀²)

Recall, k = 12378v₀²

r₁ = 12378v₀² ÷ 1.21v₀² = 10,229.75 km

10,229.75 km = (10,229.75 – 6378) km altitude above the Earth’s surface

New altitude of orbit = 3851.75 km

Decrease in altitude = 6000 – 3851.75 = 2148 km

b) The period of orbit is related to the radius of orbit through Kepler’s Law

T² ∝ R³

T² = kR³

When the period of orbit is T₀, Radius of orbit = R₀ = (6000 + 6378) = 12378 km (Earth’s radius = 6378 km)

T₀² = kR₀³

T₀² = k(12378)³

k = (T₀²) ÷ (12378)³

When the period reduces by 10%, T₁ = 0.90T₀ and the new radius of orbit = R₁

T₁² = kR₁³

(0.90T₀)² = kR₁³

0.81T₀² = kR₁³

R₁³ = (0.81T₀²) ÷ k

Recall, k = (T₀²)/(12378)³

R₁³ = (0.81T₀²) ÷ [(T₀²)/(12378)³]

R₁³ = 1,536,160,005,663.1

R₁ = ∛(1,536,160,005,663.1) = 11,538.4 km

New Altitude = R₁ – (Radius of the Earth)

= 11,538.4 – 6378 = 5160.4 km

Decrease in altitude = 6000 – 5160.4 = 839.6 km = 840 km

Hope this Helps!!!