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Instructions: (after you've read these, click here to get a bigger picture.)

Click and drag the arrow to change the direction of launch of the spaceship.

Choose Jupiter's path distance (the shortest distance of the initial launch point from Jupiter's orbital path) and initial speed of the spaceship.

RESET: puts Jupiter into ready position at far left

START: Jupiter begins moving at its orbital speed

SHOOT: launches the spaceship

Zoom in or out to see the full orbit of the spaceship!

You can also right-click on the movie and zoom in to get a better view of the objects.

Note: Jupiter moves through a distance equal to its diameter in about 3 hours.

*** This flashlet demonstrates in a semiquantitative way how a properly directed spaceship can pick up energy from a moving planet. This effect is called a "slingshot", or "gravity assist". Due to limitations in Flash, the orbit close to the planet is not very accurate.


Jupiter Data :

Radius 71,500 km
Orbital speed 13 km/s
Mass 1.9 x 1027 kg
g at surface 23ms-2

Chinese version

Copyright Michael Fowler 2004