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Astronauts have to contend with a number of unusual issues while living on the space station. Possibly the biggest difference between life up there and life down here is the apparent “weightlessness”: Nothing stays put, not even yourself! There’s no guarantee that water flows down, and if you don’t strap yourself in at bedtime, you might wake up in a storage closet.Many people think that astronauts are weightless because there’s no gravity up there. But as it turns out, the space station is subject to quite a bit of gravity (How else would it stay in orbit?). In fact, the Earth’s gravitational force at the space station’s altitude is only about 10% less than what it is at the earth’s surface. So what’s going on?When something is in orbit, it is said to be in free fall—it is falling through space with no force pushing back. But it falls at the exact same rate that the surface of the Earth curves away from it. If it falls a hundred feet vertically, it also moves far enough horizontally so that the Earth’s surface drops off by the same amount. A satellite basically falls without ever hitting the ground.In this experiment, you’re going to play around with how falling—and any kind of vertical motion—affects an object’s apparent weight.

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Fecha publicación: 12.5.2016

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