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Author Topic: Does the Earth lose weight when a rocket goes into space?  (Read 5216 times)

Offline millhouserules

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Does the Earth lose mass or weight or volume when we displace hundreds of tons if not millions of tons into space like space stations, rovers, satellites.
I know it's a vague question, but I am curious will it ever have an effect on our planets regular functions? And could this be a problem. more to come.

Thanks,

millhouse

« Last Edit: 12/08/2008 23:01:35 by chris »


 

another_someone

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Re: Does the Earth lose weight when a rocket goes into space?
« Reply #1 on: 10/03/2008 21:22:05 »
You have to bear in mind that the Earth also gains mass every time we get a meteorite shower, of even just through the additional material deposited from the solar wind.

On the other hand, we also lose lots of mass through the upper part of the atmosphere (particularly hydrogen) escaping into space.

Clearly, anything taken to enough extreme will have an effect, but at present, I doubt the loss of mass that our own space programs are contributing will at this time have any significant impact.  Before we get to that point, we would have to look at the effects that the space program has on the upper atmosphere as it passes through it (depositing high temperature fuel exhausts, and then all of the materials used in the heat shields of the re-entry vehicles, to say nothing of the effects of those vehicles that burn up in the upper atmosphere, or the space debris left in low earth orbit).
 

Offline ukmicky

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Re: Does the Earth lose weight when a rocket goes into space?
« Reply #2 on: 11/03/2008 00:55:11 »
I think the figure that NASA once quoted as the amount of hydrogen the earth could be losing to space each year was up to 4,000,000  tons. 4'000,000 million being the figure for a year with the sun being very active in its production off solar flares which swell up the atmosphere. And yet i have never seen a picture taken from space with the earth producing a tail like a comet.

I'm assuming the earth must produce one but are their any pictures. 
« Last Edit: 11/03/2008 01:01:28 by ukmicky »
 

Offline daveshorts

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Re: Does the Earth lose weight when a rocket goes into space?
« Reply #3 on: 11/03/2008 11:17:56 »
Hydrogen, especially at the pressures you are talking is pretty transparent, so you almost certainly wouldn't see it using visible light, possibly in some region of the infra red, but the effect is probably overwhelmed by the solar wind anyway.
 

Offline livingod101

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Re: Does the Earth lose weight when a rocket goes into space?
« Reply #4 on: 11/08/2008 16:57:31 »
You have to bear in mind that the Earth also gains mass every time we get a meteorite shower, of even just through the additional material deposited from the solar wind.

On the other hand, we also lose lots of mass through the upper part of the atmosphere (particularly hydrogen) escaping into space.

Clearly, anything taken to enough extreme will have an effect, but at present, I doubt the loss of mass that our own space programs are contributing will at this time have any significant impact.  Before we get to that point, we would have to look at the effects that the space program has on the upper atmosphere as it passes through it (depositing high temperature fuel exhausts, and then all of the materials used in the heat shields of the re-entry vehicles, to say nothing of the effects of those vehicles that burn up in the upper atmosphere, or the space debris left in low earth orbit).

I like that idea very much and would be interesting to know if we do produce a comet like tail.  If that is the case I wonder if the "Planet Hunters" can use that to their advantage, or is that too far fetched?
« Last Edit: 12/08/2008 16:27:17 by livingod101 »
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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Re: Does the Earth lose weight when a rocket goes into space?
« Reply #5 on: 12/08/2008 13:22:09 »
The earth loses mass but an infinitesimal amount when compared with the total mass of the earth.

In the extremely distant future when our sun becomes a red giant the atmosphere and the oceans will be vaporised by the solar winds
 

Offline LeeE

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Does the Earth lose weight when a rocket goes into space?
« Reply #6 on: 17/08/2008 23:03:34 »
It's only the mass that gets in to space that really counts - all the rest falls back to Earth or returns to the atmosphere, one way or another.  In that respect, I'd guess that only a few thousand tons at most have ever actually left Earth, despite the initial mass of the rocket stacks.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Does the Earth lose weight when a rocket goes into space?
« Reply #7 on: 23/08/2008 18:58:03 »
ukmicky  The earth does produce a tail like a comet and it can be seen with the naked eye as the Gegenschein.  This is a dim glow in precisely the opposite direction as the sun.  This is very faint and requires an extermely dark location but it has been photographed.
« Last Edit: 23/08/2008 19:01:18 by Soul Surfer »
 

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Does the Earth lose weight when a rocket goes into space?
« Reply #7 on: 23/08/2008 18:58:03 »

 

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