Marble-ous ellipses - speed and time of orbiting bodies | Teach with space P02

Language: English, French, Portuguese

Subjects: Physics, mathematics

In order to understand the orbits of planets, comets, and other celestial bodies, it is necessary to examine the principles of how gravity and the velocity of an object interact to produce an orbit. It is a common misconception among students that planetary orbits are circular. This practical activity gives a space setting to speed-time graphs.  It shows how the speed of objects in elliptical orbits change as they orbit the Sun.  An extension activity which  looks at the geometry of ellipses and their relation to physical parameters in the Solar System  is included.

Format: Teacher's guide and student activities
Age range: 14 – 16 years old (secondary, middle)

Download Teacher's guide and student activities.
Download all lesson's images here.

Contact us at teachers @ esa.int to get the worksheet answers.

Marble-ous ellipses - classroom demonstration video, VP02
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