Satellite/Moon/Comet Trajectories

Go-lab approved
Lab type: 
Data set
Lab owner: 
Wissam Halimi
Age range: 
12-14, 14-16, 16-18
English, French
Level of difficulty: 
Level of interaction: 
Booking required: 
Lab description and primary aims of the lab: 

This lab aims at helping students visualise Kepler's Second Law using true examples. Starting from acquired data from NASA on moving bodies in space: a satellite, a comet, and a moon; the lab plots their respective trajectories in 2D (x-y representation). The data provided by NASA comprises timestamps and the corresponding x-y-z coordinates for the positions. The lab projects the position points (3D) using the isometric perspective (2D) and plots a scatter of the resulting coordinates. Students can visualise the 3 trajectories at a time or select which to show, print the plots, and download the data files of the 3D and 2D data in several file formats. The primary aims of the lab are: a) Verifying that the satellites' trajectories are ellipses, b) Verifying that comets' trajectories are parabolas, c) Verifying the second law of Kepler.

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