Conceptual Physics (12th Edition)

Published by Addison-Wesley
ISBN 10: 0321909100
ISBN 13: 978-0-32190-910-7

Chapter 9 - Think and Discuss: 109


Astronauts are weightless because they are in free fall and there is no support force. This is discussed on pages 166-167. The gravitational field of Earth is definitely not zero at that height. One can calculate g at the approximate height of the ISS. $$g= G \frac{M_{Earth}}{d^{2}} = (6.67 \times 10^{-11} \frac {N \cdot m^{2}}{kg^{2}}) \frac{(6.0 \times 10^{24} kg)}{((6380 + 400) \times 10^{3} m))^{2}}$$ $$g= 8.7 \frac{m}{s^{2}} $$ This is not zero. If Earth's gravity at that height were zero, the ISS would feel no force, and move in a straight line at constant velocity.
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