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written by Wolfgang Christian and Mario Belloni
This item is an applet-based problem for introductory physics on the topic of inertia in motion.  A satellite floats at constant speed when its thrusters engage and produce a constant force perpendicular to the original motion.  What is the resulting path of the satellite? Users choose a correct response from four animations.  Physlet-based problems are intended to probe student understanding, elicit misconceptions, and serve as a springboard for discussion.  Electronic student response systems (clickers) are often used to allow anonymous "voting" on the correct answer.  

SEE RELATED ITEMS BELOW for a link to the full collection of introductory physlet-based problems and for a companion problem about an object at constant velocity receiving a momentary push.

Please note that this resource requires at least version 1.1 of Java.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Newton's First Law
= Inertia in Motion
Education Foundations
- Cognition
= Cognition Development
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Cooperative Learning
- Technology
= Audience Response
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Problem/Problem Set
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- application/java
- text/html
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Access Rights:
Free access
© 2001 Davidson College
Additional information is available.
In-class questions, Law of Inertia, Newton's First Law, acceleration, clicker questions, concept questions, inertia, java applets, peer instruction
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created January 14, 2009 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 19, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 31, 2007
Other Collections:

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
  • Newton's second law accurately predicts changes in the motion of macroscopic objects. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model to provide mechanistic accounts of phenomena. (9-12)

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
  • 9-12: 4F/H4. Whenever one thing exerts a force on another, an equal amount of force is exerted back on it.
  • 9-12: 4F/H8. Any object maintains a constant speed and direction of motion unless an unbalanced outside force acts on it.
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Record Link
AIP Format
W. Christian and M. Belloni, (2001), WWW Document, (
W. Christian and M. Belloni, Physlets: Mechanics Problems: Newton's Laws - Sustained Push (2001), <>.
APA Format
Christian, W., & Belloni, M. (2007, December 31). Physlets: Mechanics Problems: Newton's Laws - Sustained Push. Retrieved May 19, 2024, from
Chicago Format
Christian, Wolfgang, and Mario Belloni. Physlets: Mechanics Problems: Newton's Laws - Sustained Push. December 31, 2007. (accessed 19 May 2024).
MLA Format
Christian, Wolfgang, and Mario Belloni. Physlets: Mechanics Problems: Newton's Laws - Sustained Push. 2001. 31 Dec. 2007. 19 May 2024 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Wolfgang Christian and Mario Belloni", Title = {Physlets: Mechanics Problems: Newton's Laws - Sustained Push}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {19 May 2024}, Month = {December 31, 2007}, Year = {2001} }
Refer Export Format

%A Wolfgang Christian %A Mario Belloni %T Physlets: Mechanics Problems: Newton's Laws - Sustained Push %D December 31, 2007 %U %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Christian, Wolfgang %A Belloni, Mario %D December 31, 2007 %T Physlets: Mechanics Problems: Newton's Laws - Sustained Push %V 2024 %N 19 May 2024 %8 December 31, 2007 %9 application/java %U

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

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Physlets: Mechanics Problems: Newton's Laws - Sustained Push:

Is Part Of Physlets Chapter 8: Mechanics, Waves and Thermodynamics Physlet-Based Curriculum

This is the full collection of physlet-based problems for introductory mechanics, waves, and thermodynamics.

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies Physlets: Mechanics Problems: Newton's Laws - Momentary Push

A companion physlet-based problem.  An hockey puck traveling at constant velocity is given a momentary push.  How does the resulting motion differ when this type of force is applied?

relation by Caroline Hall

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