Orbits. Orbital motion and types of orbits

Would you like to know more about orbital motion?

The online orbit simulations on this page will help us to know in more detail what orbital motion is like and some of the main types of orbits.

Orbits are trajectories followed by objects in space as they move around another object due to the influence of gravity. In the context of the solar system, planets, asteroids and comets orbit the sun, while satellites orbit the planets. Understanding orbits is fundamental to astronomy and space exploration.

Orbits can be of different shapes, but the most common is the elliptical orbit. An elliptical orbit is an oval shape in which an object periodically approaches and departs from the central object. The point closest to that object is called perihelion (if it is the sun) or periapsis (if it is another object in space), and the point farthest away is called aphelion or apoapsis, respectively. The shape and orientation of the orbits can vary according to the velocity and direction of the object in space.

Orbits can also be influenced by the gravity of other nearby objects. This is known as gravitational perturbation and can make orbits more complex. For example, the Moon is influenced by both Earth’s gravity and the Sun’s gravity, resulting in a slightly elliptical orbit around the Earth.

In addition to natural orbits, humans have succeeded in placing satellites in orbit around the Earth, which are used for various applications, such as communication, Earth observation, navigation, and scientific research.

Understanding orbits is crucial for space navigation and space mission planning. Scientists and space engineers use calculations and mathematical models to predict and control spacecraft orbits, ensuring that they stay on safe and efficient trajectories.

In summary, the online orbit simulations on this page are an excellent way to delve deeper into orbital motion and the most important types of orbits. Give them a try!

Orbital Motion

Orbital motions occur around an object that generates a centripetal force due to the effect of gravity. Is the net force acting on the satellite zero? Why doesn’t it fall?

Orbital Motion II

The satellite orbits the Earth under the influence of gravity. Check the relationship between the radius of gyration and circular velocity.

Geostationary Orbit

A satellite in a geostationary orbit rotates synchronously with the Earth. The geostationary orbit is located at about 36,000 km altitude in the plane of the equator. Check what happens as the radius or circular velocity changes.

Gravity and Orbits

In the latest of these online orbit simulations, you can move the sun, earth, moon and space station to see how it affects their gravitational forces and orbital paths. Visualize the sizes and distances between the different celestial bodies and turn off gravity to see what would happen without gravity!


Click here to start the simulation
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