Inside Orbit

Did You Know the Earth’s Atmosphere Extends Beyond the Orbit of the Moon?
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Such an orbit is called a geostationary or geosynchronous orbit.

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You can lose weight by just moving from the first floor of a building to the second floor. By increasing your distance from the center of the Earth, you will lose weight. Granted, the difference will be very slight—about the weight of a fly. If you want to lose even more weight, try going to the top floor of a really tall building! Of course, you will gain it all back when you return to the first floor. Instead of trying to lose weight, you should try to lose mass.

Air Force’s secretive X-37B ‘spaceplane’ lands after record 780 days in orbit

That, of course, takes more effort. False: Gravity exists everywhere in space. Don't be fooled by the somewhat misleading term "zero-gravity. Gravity from Earth keeps the Moon and human-made satellites in orbit. It is possible to far away from a planet or star and feel less gravity, because gravity decreases with distance. But that doesn't account for the weightless feeling that astronauts experience in space.

Forces of Flight on this Page. Gravity in Orbit.

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Weightlessness Depends on Movement. Fortunately, LRO won't experience that situation again until May , Petro said, which will be a relatively short eclipse, and then again in May Slipping occasionally into darkness is still easier for a spacecraft than what machines face on the lunar surface. On the moon, day and night each last the equivalent of two weeks on Earth, and during that long darkness, temperatures plummet.

Record-Holding Moon Mission Marks a Decade in Orbit

The bitter cold freezes whatever hardware does make it to the surface safely, shortening the life span of that equipment. But from orbit, LRO has been able to remain at work for a decade, gathering huge amounts of photographs and measurements of the lunar surface. To date, the mission has produced a stunning 1. In the context of NASA, that's "twice as much data as all other missions combined," he said.

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Ironically, the massive lunar database that LRO is still building can help scientists better understand Earth's surface , despite those pesky oceans. That's because Earth and the moon are close enough that they should have experienced essentially the same frequency of impacts over the course of geologic history.

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Most of Earth's craters have disappeared, melted by plate tectonics, eroded by the wind or covered in water. The moon's are still right there, though, in stunning view of LRO. Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels space.

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