This post is for teachers in the 22 communities across the U.S. and Canada that just started SSEP Mission 9 to ISS. You are invited to use this Challenge with your students to get them thinking about the concept of microgravity (the technical name for the phenomenon of ‘weightlessness’). In the Challenge below, students are asked to post what they think is an answer to the Challenge in the comment section. Please encourage your students to do so, so that all students visiting this blog post can see what other Mission 9 students across the U.S. and Canada are thinking. Let’s use this blog post as a social media platform for sharing thoughts about microgravity.
The solution to this Challenge will be posted Monday, September 21, 2015.
Note that this Challenge is covered as part of the program start Skype for your community’s Local Team of Mission 9 educators. These Skypes for the Mission 9 communities are being conducted by SSEP National Program Director Dr. Jeff Goldstein through September 18, 2015.
I’ve heard a lot about this weightlessness stuff, with astronauts having a great time floating around in space. So I wanted to find out first hand what’s going on up there. Since they don’t have a spare seat on the next flight to low Earth orbit (at least not yet), I looked far and wide to find an amazingly tall mountain whose peak rises to the Space Station’s altitude in orbit so I could climb up and see for myself.
Station is currently orbiting the Earth about 250 miles (400 km) above sea level, and, by the way, crew and station are zipping along at 4.7 MILES PER SECOND (7.6 km/sec) relative to you sitting there at your computer. Bam. The Station just moved 4.7 miles. Really.
Hey! If you want to track station altitude, speed, and position over Earth, in REAL TIME, go to the SSEP home page http://ssep.ncesse.org, and in the Multimedia section at the top, open the toggle titled “ISS Current Location”. You’re invited to explore the other two toggles as well.
It took some Googling, but I found that really tall mountain! See my mountain in the picture? It accidentally got captured in an old Space Shuttle photo. Mt. Everest is only 5.5 miles (8.8 km) high. MY mountain (Jeff’s Peak) is 260 miles (420 km) high. I found it south of the Land of Make-Believe, down a not too well traveled path. Still, you’d think someone would have noticed it since it’s 47 times higher than Mt. Everest. (Have you ever heard of Jeff’s peak? No? See, nobody knows about it!)
So this week, I’m going to take the time to climb my mountain, and in my hand is my trusty bathroom scale, spring-loaded and guaranteed to be accurate at any altitude. I’ll camp out at the top, and I’ll wait until Space Station flies right by my mountain, so I can look in the windows and see if those lucky astronauts are weightless and floating around.
Here now the challenge—
As soon as I confirm they’re weightless in the Space Station, I’ll step on my bathroom scale to see my weight. If I weigh say 150 lbs when I’m standing on my scale in my bathroom at home, what will I weigh on top of my mountain?
Metric system note: in the metric system, weight is measured in Newtons (N). 150 lbs is equivalent to 667 Newtons, which is the weight of a 68 kg mass at Earth’s surface.
Hint: You don’t actually need to calculate my weight. I’ll do that in the Solution to the Challenge. Your assignment—if you decide to accept it—is to guess what you think I’ll weigh and why. Hmmmm, lots of possibilities.
Post your guesses below, and remember to include why you think your guess is correct. Students of ALL ages are welcome to post a guess.
I’ll even give you a week to noodle on this in class, and at home with your parents, and then post your guesses. I’ll post the answer next Monday, September 21, 2015, right here at the SSEP National Blog. See you then, and good luck noodling!
Also – if you want to follow along with the latest news from the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), you are invited to subscribe to the SSEP National Blog at the bottom of the right column.
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with NanoRacks LLC, working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Subaru of America, Inc., are U.S. National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Magellan Aerospace is a Canadian National Partner on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.
I think that my weight on a mountain that is 420,000 meters will be around 95 pounds because the farther away you are from the earths surface, the more the weight of that object decreases.
my weight would be 92.8 newtons
My weight on earth would be 600N, and my weight on the mountain would be 60N, because I would be farther away from gravity.
My weight would be about 6 kg (I did the formula).
This is from Mr. Wilder’s 4th period (gr 9 and 10) in Eugene, OR.
Group B 0 lbs we guessed
Group C 150 lbs we are guessing he will weigh the same because he’s not really in space
Group D 26 lbs Earth’s gravity is weak at 260 miles, but there’s still gravity
Group E 0 lbs he weighs nothing or less, but he has the same mass
Group F 150 lbs He would weigh the same on earth and on the mountain because gravity would move through the mountain and make him weigh the same
Group G 135lbs because according to Olin, at that height, you would weigh about 90% of your actual weight, so 90% of 150 is 135 lbs.
Group H 150 lbs we think it would be 100% of his weight
Oh and Group A 150 lbs because he is still on earth and nothing has changed.
On Earth my weight is 52 kg, and on the mountain I think my weight would be 46.011965019946366 kg because I solved some equations.
My weight on the Earth’s surface is 52 kg, and on the mountain I think my weight would be 46.011965019946366 kg, even though that is technically mass, not weight, because I solved some equations.
I think my weight would be around 20 pounds, because as long as you are still on Earth you would still have SOME weight. The farther away from Earth you are the lower the weight you are.
I think my weight on the mountain that’s 420,000 m is 108 pounds because when I did the calculation gravity times the mass divided by the distance gave me that answer. And also the gravity as you get further makes your weight less cause of the air resistance.
I think i will weigh about 50 pounds because in space your weight is 9 times smaller because of Gravity
Katherine, convert your mass into newtons. Use your notes if you don’t remember how. Then just for fun, find out what Jeff’s weight would be on the mountain. He weighs 150 pounds at sea level.
I think my weight on the top of the mountain would be 2,133,070,213,119,562 Newtons i followed the formula but I think I did the math wrong.
G x mass 1 x mass 2
my weight on earth is 588 newtons ( 60 kg) after hiking up there and loosing all those calories probably 98 newtons (10 kg) 😉 . 😀 hahaha jk I think I would weigh the same because iv never heard that if you increase height away from the earths core it decreases your weight. But if so than I think I would weigh 294 newtons (30 kg) since the mountain is so high up.
My mass is 450.8kg, Earth’s mass is 5,972kg, and The total distance from the center of the Earth to the top of a 420,000m mountain would be 6,791,000m. Because the formula for my force on that mountain is G*mass one*mass two/distance^2, my weight would be G*450.8kg(5,972*10^24)/6,79100^2, for this I got 4.611768e+11kg.
My weight on Earth is 53kg and doing the formula that I had in my science class I would weigh around 519.75245151792 newtons.
G x mass 1 x mass 2
My weight on top of the moutain would be 52 N
i would not be weightless because i found with the formula given (force=mass#1xmass#2/distance squared) i found that if you climbed up a 420 km tall mountain ( aka in space ) and stepped on a bathroom scale you would still have a small fraction of the weight you have on the earth.
i myself i am guessing around 20 Newtons but that is just a guess.
I think that my weight would be roughly 88 Newtons (I did some math, not sure if I did it right though).
My mass would be 37.8832 kg and my weight would be 371.2551 N because I used the formula weight = G * ((mass1 * mass2)/distance^2).
I would weigh 6 kg (dont know if i did the formula right sooo)
I think I would weigh about 509.17 Newtons. Because the gravitational pull is like a sphere and gets weaker as you move further away from the center. we know that gravity at the earth’s equator is about 9.8m/(s*s). The radius of the earth is about 6400km. So the gravity at 420km from the earths surface is g2=g1(r2/r1)^2 therefore g2 equals about 8.63m/(s*s). Weight is equal to mass*gravity therefore his weigh would equal 59kg*8.63m/(s*s)=509.17N.
My weight would be 676.46. I drew a little diagram to help me but unfortunately I can’t show you, so I will do my best to explain it to you as best as possible.
I weigh 167 pounds, 78kg.
weight = mass x gravity
g1 = gravity 1
g2 = gravity 2
r1 = radius 1
r2 = radius 2
g1/g2 = (r2/r1)2 =
g2 = g1(r2/r1)2 =
9.8 m/sec2 /6820/6400 =
9.8 m/sec2 / 1.065 squared =
9.8/1.13 = 8.67 m/sec2
gravity = 8.67
Now its time for me to plug in the numbers to the equation:
weight = mass x gravity
weight = 78kg x 8.67= Dun Dun Dun (drum roll) 676.47
I’m sorry if that didn’t make sense, I did my best. I hope you understood.
Have a wonderful day.
i weigh 807.5 newtons (85 kg) on earth so my guess is that i would weigh about 504.3 newtons if i was on a mountain that was 420km at the top…. and thats only a guess
I totally messed up I got 2.8930678 Times 10 to the power of the 39th kilograms as my wieght (no I’m not the size of the sun)I got this answer 4 times i solved the whole newtons law of gravitation adding in my weight as mass1 and using the earth as mass 2 I did convert the newtons to kilograms i do know that newtons are a measurement of force so that may have something to do with my mistake but whatever.
I got 2.87930678 Times 10 to the power of 39 (no I don’t weigh as much as the sun)I got this answer 4 times I don’t know how I did the whole newtons law of gravitation IDK I’m bad at math.
I think I would weight about 98 newtons
I think i would be about 390 newtons. I honestly have no idea what i did, i tried to follow the formula but I’m pretty sure i messed up somewhere alongnthe way
I got 0.00000000000000000000000424819938N. I did the math
My weight would be about 708.57N if i were to climb a 420km mountain (i used the formula).
I think this is to small but I did it again and got 7.532291042 times 10 to the -35th again I did the newtons law of gravitation but I’m bad at math so…
I think that I would weigh less than a Newton.
268,740 kg/5,951,000 = .045 kg.
There for, I would weigh less than one Newton.
Well, my weight is 70 kg (154 pounds), but because that mountain is so tall, I would be burning a lot of my body fat. Because I weigh 154 pounds, and a person loses there weight multiplied by .53 (lb * 0.53) so I would burn about 21,221 calories, or my weight is about 147.93665714 pounds just by walking on a perfectly straight and perfectly flat surface. Those calculations I used do not calculate inclines, that’s the problem with this question, is it does not state the incline level. but, to be able to finish this problem, I’m just gonna theorize that it has the incline of mountain Everest, because that is what its comparing it to. I tried to find the average incline for mountain Everest, but it was all “how to prepare” and “routes to the summit” so was left dry with no answer, but enough stalling, lets get to more boring calculations there is another factor that would play into my weight loss, its my shivering. the average person loses 6.666 calories from shivering alone, this would make my weight to 143.96347. Now to the science part. Oregon (which is the state my weight was taken in) is about 9495 feet above sea level, this means that my weight was actually reduced by 1.0531 pounds. Which means that my original weight was actually 155.0531 pounds, which means I get to do all of my calculations all over again. so my calorie burn/mile is now 81.09 calories, and plus shivering, its 88.567 calories per mile. I have finally found what I was looking for, I found the uphill calorie burn, at 150 pounds, you burn 440 more calories, which means that at the rate of 17 minute miles, I would be burning an extra 3.534 calories, which means that I would be burning a total of 92.101 calories. to recap, I weigh about 140 after climbing to the summit of the mountain, NOW to the real science part. Well, because I now weigh about 140 pounds, and because we live on Earth where mass and weight are the same, AND also because the farther from the core you are away from the core the lighter you are, I know that Gravity pulls on you at 9.80665 m/s^2 (roughly 9.8 meters per second per second)–falling speed. At the equator it is 9.789 m/s^2… and at the poles it is 9.832 m/s^2. Also, at 260 miles, you will have .1% of your mass then at sea level, which means that my weight is 6.8kg. Now, time to wasted my life on video games to numb my inner demons.
My weight would be 60kg
I would be about 15.2 LBS on the moon, I know this because the gravity on the moon is 1.6 m/s^2 and that is about 6.1 times less than the gravity on earth. So I just divided my weight by 6.1.
I think that my weight would be 833 because what I did was take my weight in kilometers and multiplied that by 9.8 newtons and that is how I got my answer.
i weigh 49 kg at sea level and 42 kg on the mountain. my mom helped and we used the formula weight=massxmass / r2
I would weigh 68 N if I was on a mountain that was 420,000 m high.
Jeff’s mass is150 lbs. or 68 kg
Weight at sea level is 68 kg x 9.81 N/kg = 667 newtons
According to Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation,
Force (weight) = G x (mass1 x mass 2) ÷ distance^2
G is the gravitational constant. G = 6.673 x 10^-11 N x (m/kg)^2
mass1 = Jeff’s mass = 68 kg
mass 2 = Earth’s mass = 5.972 x 10^-24 kg
distance = the distance to Earth’s center from the top of the mountain
The mountain is 420,000 m. Earth’s radius is 6,371,000 m.
distance = 6,271,000 m + 420,000 m = 6,691,000 m.
Plug in all the values, and Jeff’s weight on top of Mt. Jeff is about 593 N (or 133 pounds) or 74 N less than he weighed on Earth. He is far from “weightless.”
I would weigh about 6 kg using the formula I think. I weigh 120 lbs, feel free to check my math O.o
According to Newton’s law of gravitation I would weigh about 9.109 Newtons because the center of the earth is where you would be heaviest because of the gravitational pull so I start at the bottom of the mountain where I weigh 55kg and by the time I get to the top which is now 3605500m from the core of earth I would weigh about 9.109N (I don’t know if that’s right but its my best guess)
My weight on top of the mountain will be 54N
My weight on top of a mountain. Will be 20n
I believe you will weigh more there because of the decrease in gravitational pull as you move away from the center of the earth.