Bite-sized knowledge for the hungrily curious
Nov30
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Stay tuned. Our next quiz will be on Nov 30.

Is there “zero-gravity” in space?

The Answer

No

Why do people float around in space then?

When a person is in orbit around earth, the ‘downward’ force of gravity is balanced by the ‘upward’ force or inertia due to the orbital movement around the earth? Since these forces balance each other out there is a nearly zero ‘net’ force from gravity which is also referred to as microgravity.

Isn’t the gravitational force from earth lower because it’s further away?

Yes, but only negligibly so.

What if I’m on a spacecraft outside of earth’s orbit?

If you are, and you’re reading this now, that’s awesome.

You’re still not in zero-gravity. The movement of the craft is influenced greatly by the gravity exerted by the sun, and beyond that, the position and movement of our solar system is influenced greatly by the gravity of the rest of our galaxy, and so on.

What if I feel attracted to another person, is that gravity?

If you’re on a spacecraft in deep space with this other person, you’re going to want to be careful with that. If things don’t work out, you’re kind of stuck with them for a while (a long while…).

But, setting that aside, you’re probably not feeling the gravitational effect of a nearby person. However, it’s still not zero-gravity. There is a non-zero gravitational pull between any two objects that have mass no matter how small the masses are, and how far apart they are.

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