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Satellites in Orbit

The Earth orbits around the sun, but what stops the Earth and the other planets from moving away from each other? Students will explore this question and more in this worksheet.

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Physics: Motion and Forces

Curriculum subtopic:  Forces

Difficulty level:  

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QUESTION 1 of 10

When an athlete throws the hammer, the cord between the athlete's hands and the hammer stop the hammer from moving away from the athlete, until he lets go of course!

 

A hammer thrower in action

 

This is similar to how the Earth orbits around the Sun, with one difference: there is no cord holding the Earth in orbit; instead, it is the force of gravity

Gravity stops the Earth and all the other planets and moons from moving from their orbits.

 

The planets in orbit around the Sun

 

As can be seen in the diagram of the Solar System above, the planets close to the Sun have a more curved orbit, because the force of gravity from the Sun gets stronger the closer you get to it.

The force of gravity is also responsible for keeping the Moon orbiting around the Earth. 

 

The Moon orbiting the Earth

 

The force of gravity can also keep our artificial satellites in orbit around the Earth without the need for power, because gravity from the Earth holds them in position. Similar to the how the planets orbit around the Sun, satellites that are close to the Earth orbit faster and on a more curved path than those that are further from the Earth.

 

A satellite orbiting the Earth 

The planets in our Solar System orbit around.........

Jupiter

Earth

the Moon

the Sun

Type the name of the force that holds all the planets in orbit.

What is the name of the Earths natural satellite?

meteor

the moon

Haley's Comet

the sun

Which of the following planets would orbit the fastest around the Sun?

Venus

Mercury

Neptune

Jupiter

Earth

Saturn

Uranus

Mars

Which of the following planets has the least curved orbit around the Sun?

Mercury

Mars

Earth

Venus

Saturn

Uranus

Neptune

Jupiter

Which of the following planets has the fastest orbit around the Sun?

Mars

Venus

Earth

Jupiter

What is responsible for holding our artificial satellites in orbit?

wind

gravity

solar power

rockets

What is the speed and curve of a satellite's orbit when compared to a satellite with a lower orbit around the Earth?

The further a satellite is from the Earth the less curved and slower the orbit.

The further a satellite is from the Earth the more curved and faster the orbit.

It does not make a difference.

  • Question 1

The planets in our Solar System orbit around.........

CORRECT ANSWER
the Sun
EDDIE SAYS
All the planets in our Solar System orbit around the Sun, although early astronomers thought the Earth was the centre of the Solar System.
  • Question 2

Type the name of the force that holds all the planets in orbit.

CORRECT ANSWER
gravity
EDDIE SAYS
Gravity is the invisible force that holds all the planets and moons in orbit.
  • Question 3

What is the name of the Earths natural satellite?

CORRECT ANSWER
the moon
EDDIE SAYS
The moon is the Earths natural satellite and is held in orbit by the gravity of the Earth.
  • Question 4

Which of the following planets would orbit the fastest around the Sun?

CORRECT ANSWER
Mercury
EDDIE SAYS
Mercury would orbit the fastest because it is the closest to the Sun. This is why a year on mercury only lasts 88 days.
  • Question 5

Which of the following planets has the least curved orbit around the Sun?

CORRECT ANSWER
Neptune
EDDIE SAYS
Neptune has the least curved orbit because it is the furthest from the Sun and therefore the Sun has less influence on it.
A year on Neptune lasts 60,194 Earth days or 165 Earth years!
  • Question 6

Which of the following planets has the fastest orbit around the Sun?

CORRECT ANSWER
Venus
EDDIE SAYS
Venus has the fastest orbit of the four because it is the closest to the Sun.
  • Question 7

What is responsible for holding our artificial satellites in orbit?

CORRECT ANSWER
gravity
EDDIE SAYS
Gravity also holds our artificial satellites in orbit. Our world would be a different place without artificial satellites; no GPS, mobile phones, or internet.
  • Question 8

What is the speed and curve of a satellite's orbit when compared to a satellite with a lower orbit around the Earth?

CORRECT ANSWER
The further a satellite is from the Earth the less curved and slower the orbit.
EDDIE SAYS
The further a satellite is from the Earth the less curved it's orbit is and slower the orbit takes.
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