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Satellite Orbits

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Lab Activities

The students start with the programs called SATORB and SATPLOT and modify them to:

a. generate data to test Kepler's three laws of planetary motion;

b. change the force law to an inverse 1.9 or 2.1 power and plot an orbit; they check to see if the orbit is closed and if Kepler's second law is valid for such a force; and

c. send a spacecraft from a fixed earth to a fixed moon and back with the computer plotting the trip and calculating the time it would take.

The programs use the technique of numerical integration to compute the orbital data and the data for testing Kepler's laws. This exercise is sometimes run as a lab or as an optional (or required) computer project which runs concurrently with the labs.

Course Level

Student Handouts


Number of set-ups available:

Per lab station:

1 Macintosh SE/30 with keyboard, mouse, and dust cover
1 rolling cart
1 phone cable and turbonet connector
1 mouse pad
1 satellite orbits True Basic programs

Per class:

True Basic User Manuals
True Basic Reference Manuals



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