It all depends on how thick the atmosphere is where the satellite is orbiting. The atmosphere doesn’t just “end” at a certain height. It just gets thinner and thinner. In low Earth orbit, where the ISS is orbiting, there is still some atmosphere. It’s very, very thin, but it’s there. At the top of Mount... Continue Reading →

This is an image of Newton’s Cannon. Given a high enough elevation, shooting a canon-ball at a high enough velocity will cause it to travel further and further until it just goes into orbit, falling around the earth. That is what’s happening inside the ISS. It’s called free-fall - the same as Newton’s canon-ball. The ISS is... Continue Reading →

Great question! You asked specifically if one of the Lagrange points could be a good place to hide a time capsule from the past. The answer is “no” because, you see, an orbit in a Lagrange point is inherently unstable and would eventually either fall to Earth or fall to the Sun. According to space.com, “L1,... Continue Reading →

Astronauts are not weightless. They experience micro-gravity. As close to the earth that they are, gravity is a huge factor. You couldn’t, for example, step outside and just float away into space. The reason it seems to be weightlessness is that the ISS and the astronauts inside are all falling at the same speed. The... Continue Reading →

Yes it would return to Earth. The escape velocity for Earth is more than 11 km per second or 33 times the speed of sound. This is about 9 or 10 times faster than a rifle bullet. So even without air friction the bullet’s going to go up, gradually slow down, and fall. The problem... Continue Reading →

Solution to Newton's Cannon problem I proposed earlier, explained in this nice YouTube video.

Let’s revisit Sir Isaac Newton’s cannon. In the above mentioned article we had placed a level on the cannon and shot the cannonball at 1440 feet per second parallel to the ground until it fell and bounced and rolled and came to a stop. We didn’t want to shoot it up in the air in... Continue Reading →

In two previous blog posts about Newton's Cannon and Joe Drops the Ball I posed the question: If falling objects go faster and faster, why don’t orbiting objects fall out of orbit and crash to the ground? The question is legitimate and also has a perfectly legitimate explanation. The rate of a falling object is... Continue Reading →