The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Could launching space crafts cause the earth to change orbit?  (Read 679 times)

Offline thedoc

  • Forum Admin
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 511
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Oliver asked the Naked Scientists:
   Hi Chris, could the repeated launching of spacecraft on the same areas of the planet cause earth to change orbit slightly over many years?  Thanks, Oliver
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 13/04/2016 21:50:02 by _system »


 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8660
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Slightly.
But to a much lesser extent than when you are walking down the street and a mosquito lands on you and knocks you off course.
 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4116
  • Thanked: 245 times
    • View Profile
Quote from: Oliver
launching of spacecraft on the same areas of the planet
The Earth is rotating on its axis, so all those tiny little pushes actually occur in all different directions.

And there are spaceports in various parts of the world (but the major ones are in the northern hemisphere - USA & Russia, or equatorial - French).

Quote
cause earth to change orbit slightly
Most of the satellite launch mass (rocket exhaust and fuel tanks) is used to get out of Earth's atmosphere, and falls back into Earth's atmosphere. There is no net thrust on the Earth.

It is the center of mass of (Earth + artificial satellite) which determines Earth's orbit.
Even the small fraction of the spacecraft's mass that makes it into space normally stays in Earth orbit. The center of mass of (Earth + artificial satellite on the ground) is the same as the center of mass of (Earth + artificial satellite in Earth orbit). So Earth's orbit is unchanged.

The only spaceships that could possibly affect Earth's orbit (by an immeasurably small amount) are the small proportion of space probes which go beyond the Moon (the Moon is still in Earth orbit) to Venus, Mars, Pluto, Jupiter, etc. Because these are all in different directions, the net effect on the Earth cancels out.
 

Offline PmbPhy

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2760
  • Thanked: 38 times
    • View Profile
Oliver asked the Naked Scientists:
   Hi Chris, could the repeated launching of spacecraft on the same areas of the planet cause earth to change orbit slightly over many years?  Thanks, Oliver
What do you think?
The effect on the Earth due to rocket launches is negligible when compared to the amount of debris from space which the Earth collects in a year in the form of asteroids and meteors. Estimates range from 37,000-78,000 tons. See:
http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/about-us/75-our-solar-system/comets-meteors-and-asteroids/meteorites/313-how-many-meteorites-hit-earth-each-year-intermediate
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums