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How Long Would Balls Dropped on Different Planets Take to Reach the Surface?

By: Buzz Staff

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Last Updated: October 06, 2021, 09:03 IST

Representative image.

Representative image.

In the video, the Sun can be seen to be the strongest by attracting the ball from a distance of one kilometre in just 2.7 seconds. The second solar system body to win the race is Jupiter which attracts the ball to its surface in 9.0 seconds.

You must have learnt that if you went to the moon, you would weigh one-sixth of your weight on earth. You might also know that if you weigh 100 kilograms on Earth, you would weigh only 38 kilograms on Mars. But what about the rest of the planets in the solar system? What about the Sun? While using your weight percentage as a tool of comparison is great, comparing your weights on the major solar system bodies side-by-side may be a little overwhelming. For easier yet fascinating visualisation, two physicists teamed up to create something that would give you a fair comparative idea of the gravitational pulls of our solar system bodies. The idea was to track a ball left to fall on the solar system bodies from a distance of one kilometre. Comparing how quickly they reach the surface of the solar system objects, one could have a fair idea of the gravitational pull of the objects. The duo produced an 88-second illustration video that shows a ball dropping on all the solar bodies while calculating its speed and time elapsed in real-time.

Tweeting the video on Sunday, October 3, JAXA space scientist James O’Donoghue wrote, “Gravitational forces of the Solar System.” Crediting his collaborator Rami Mandow, who founded an Australian space-community platform called SpaceAustralia, O’Donoghue, who has been with NASA in the past, informed that the duo used data from NASA’s Planetary Fact Sheet.

In the video, the Sun can be seen to be the strongest by attracting the ball from a distance of one kilometre in just 2.7 seconds. The second solar system body to win the race is Jupiter which attracts the ball to its surface in 9.0 seconds. The third is Neptune with a score of 13.4 seconds. Saturn and Earth are fourth and fifth respectively but their pulls are comparable with Saturn being scoring 13.8 seconds and Earth taking 14.3 seconds to attract the ball to its surface. Uranus and Venus, both stand at 15 seconds while Mercury and Mars take 23.2 seconds for the ball to reach its surface. The moon takes 35.3 seconds and Pluto takes 56.7 seconds. The last one is Ceres, the biggest asteroid, which takes 84.3 seconds.

Please note that for the definition of ‘surface,’ scientists use an atmospheric pressure of 1 bar, given that the gas giant planets do not have surfaces like earth. Also, the calculations used surface gravity at equators of the bodies, thereby ignoring the rotational effects for the sake of simplicity.

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first published:October 04, 2021, 15:04 IST
last updated:October 06, 2021, 09:03 IST
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