GED Science Practice Test: The Law of Gravity
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Read the following passage and answer the question below:
Gravity seems to be a very mysterious force, yet it behaves in predictable ways. Gravity is the attractive force between two objects. On the surface of the earth, we experience gravity as our weight; we are pulled to earth by the force of gravity. You have probably seen movies or television shows where people are not close to the surface of the earth (i.e., in space), and appear to be floating. While there are some locations in space with no gravity, most locations actually do have a small amount of gravity, called microgravity.
Newton’s universal law of gravitation explains the mathematical relationship between two objects experiencing a gravitational force. The relationship is that the gravitational force experienced is directly proportional to the product of the two objects masses, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Thus, distance has a bigger effect on gravitational force than does mass. While this may sound complicated, looking at the graph of the relationship should bring some clarity:
What the graph above shows is that at very small distances, the force of gravity is very high (like we experience on earth). That force of gravity lowers very quickly as you move away from an object. At very far distances, the force of gravity is small, and does not change very much. It is important to remember that both distance and mass are important in determining the size of the gravitational force experienced between objects. The following diagram shows the relationship among mass, distance, and gravity by the size of the red arrows between the two objects:
Gravity is one of the main forces that governs motions and relationships between objects in space. Now, we will examine some typical motions that objects in space experience.
Which has the biggest influence on the force of gravity between two objects?