Satellites, Centripetal Force and Tangential Motion

A GCSE-level quiz relating to the Satellites section in the OCR Gateway Physics P5 module. It asks about the different types of orbit an artificial satellite can have around Earth, the orbital path of each type of satellite and how each satellite's distance from Earth affects its orbit.

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1. When a satellite is orbiting the Earth, how does its distance from the Earth affect the speed of its orbit?

  • The distance from the Earth's surface to a satellite doesn't affect the speed of the satellite's orbit.
  • The closer to the Earth's surface a satellite is, the faster it travels. The further away from the Earth's surface a satellite is, the slower it travels.
  • The closer to the Earth's surface a satellite is, the slower it travels. The further away from the Earth's surface a satellite is, the faster it travels.
  • The closer to the Earth's surface a satellite is, the faster it travels. The further away from the Earth's surface a satellite is, the faster it travels.
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2. Due to the gravitational force of attraction between an artificial satellite and the Earth, the Earth's artificial satellites are:

  • constantly accelerating towards the Earth
  • constantly decelerating
  • constantly drifting away from the Earth
  • occasionally accelerating towards the Earth

3. The particular height of the orbit of a geostationary satellite ensures that:

  • the satellite is able to pass over the entire surface of the Earth, as the Earth continues to turn whilst the satellite orbits
  • the satellite can orbit the Earth much faster than the rate that it is turning
  • the satellite's orbital period is 24 hours long, so it appears stationary when observing from the Earth's surface
  • the satellite remains stationary

4. Geostationary satellites are further away from the Earth's surface. This means that a lower gravitational force of attraction is present between the satellite and the Earth. What kind of tangential speed is required to keep this satellite in orbit?

  • A low one because too high a tangential speed will cause the satellite to move away, into space.
  • A low one because too high a tangential speed will cause the satellite to fall to the Earth's surface.
  • A high one because too low a tangential speed will cause the satellite to move away, into space.
  • A high one because too low a tangential speed will cause the satellite to fall to the Earth's surface.

5. Satellites in low polar orbit pass over the poles and orbit the Earth 100-200km from its surface. How long is their orbital period?

  • 90 minutes
  • 60 minutes
  • 120 minutes
  • 30 minutes

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