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Exploration 4.5: Space Probe with Multiple Engines

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A space probe is designed with four engines that can fire in the +x, -x, +y, and -y directions, respectively (position is given in meters and time is given in seconds). For each of the situations below, first predict the motion of the space probe. Your prediction should be a detailed description of the motion of the probe. Only after you make a prediction, check it by viewing the animation. An example is shown in the first row of the table. Restart.

Situation

Your prediction

Animation

The space probe has a constant velocity in the +x direction when suddenly an engine exerts a force on the probe in the +x direction.

The probe will have an acceleration in the +x direction. Therefore, since it is already traveling in that direction when the engine fires, it will speed up and will continue moving in the +x direction.

Animation 1

The space probe has a constant velocity in the +x direction when suddenly an engine exerts a force on the probe in the -x direction.

 

Animation 2

The space probe has a constant velocity in the +x direction when suddenly an engine exerts a force on the probe in the +y direction.

 

Animation 3

The space probe has a constant velocity in the +x direction when suddenly an engine exerts a force on the probe in the -y direction.

 

Animation 4

The space probe has a constant velocity in the +x direction when suddenly an engine exerts a force on the probe in the -y direction and another engine exerts a force in the -x direction.

 

Animation 5

The space probe has a constant velocity in the +x direction when suddenly an engine exerts a force on the probe in the +y direction and another engine exerts a force in the +x direction.

 

Animation 6

The space probe has a constant velocity in the +x direction when suddenly all four engines fire simultaneously.

 

Animation 7

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Exploration authored by and placed into the public domain by Aaron Titus.

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