Space Environment

How does gravity work in space?

Is there gravity in space?

There is gravity everywhere. It gives shape to the orbits of the planets, the solar system, and even galaxies. Gravity from the Sun reaches throughout the solar system and beyond, keeping the planets in their orbits. Gravity from Earth keeps the Moon and human-made satellites in orbit.

It is true that gravity decreases with distance, so it is possible to be far away from a planet or star and feel less gravity. But that doesn't account for the weightless feeling that astronauts experience in space. The reason that astronauts feel weightless actually has to do with their position compared to their spaceship. We feel weight on Earth because gravity is pulling us down, while the floor or ground stop us from falling. We are pressed against it. Any ship in orbit around the Earth is falling slowly to Earth. Since the ship and the astronauts are falling at the same speed, the astronauts don't press against anything, so they feel weightless.

You can feel something very like what the astronauts feel for a moment in a fast-moving elevator going down or in a roller coaster, when you start going down a big hill. You are going down rapidly, but so is the roller coaster or the elevator so for a second you feel weightless.

What is an orbit?
What is gravity?
How do objects in space travel?
Is there energy in space?

What is escape velocity?
What is mass?
What role does the Sun play in space missions like DS1's?

Why do mass and distance affect gravity?
What's a gravity well?