Note that this Challenge is covered as part of the program start Skype for your community’s Local Team of Mission 10 educators. These Skypes for the Mission 10 communities are being conducted by SSEP National Program Director Dr. Jeff Goldstein through Friday, February 26, 2016.
This blog post is for teachers in the 12 communities across the U.S. that just started SSEP Mission 10 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’). As part of this Challenge, students are asked to submit what they think is an answer in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section below. Please encourage your students to submit answers, so that all students visiting this blog post can see what other Mission 10 students across the U.S. are thinking. Let’s use this blog post as a social media platform for sharing thoughts about microgravity.
[2/23/16 1:00 pm ET update: WOW!! What great comments below already, and the post has only been up for 4 hours! Good thinking everyone:)]
The solution to the Challenge will be posted to this SSEP National Blog on Tuesday, March 1, 2016.
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 orbits the Earth close to 260 miles (420 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.
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? **
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.
Submit your guesses below in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section, 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. I’ll post the answer next Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 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.
[**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.]
The solution to this Challenge was posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016.
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 his is standing under the influence of micro gravity.
I think he will weigh half his weight or less because he’s above the atmosphere in space, and in space you’re just about weightless. He won’t weigh anything at all.
Well i have two answers to this
1.well hypothetically if he could breath outside the atmosphere he would be around 90-95 pounds
2. if he was right below the atmosphere he would weigh about 200-300 pounds because of the pressure being pushed down on him because the high gravity being pushed down on him
HE IS DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think he will weigh half or less as much as he did before because of the way air pressure works. Because he is above the atmosphere, there is no gravity and your weightless in space. So that means that you don’t weigh anything in space, he won’t weigh anything at all. Even if he has a space suit on it won’t make any difference.
I think he would weigh about twenty to thirty pounds lighter because he would be partly out of earths gravitational pull but not completely out into space.
I think he will be lighter because of the less air pressure that pushes you down. The space station in space isn’t going towards the ground due to the gravity pulling the object.I think that Jeff would weigh about.. hmm.. let me think. About 60 -90 pounds because usually the weight of the object that is in space is about 1/6 to 2/6. The atmosphere wouldn’t pull you down if you weren’t in it. Even though Jeff is standing on an object that starts on the Earth’s surface you still would not be crushed or give more weight to the person. The object won’t be in the atmosphere, it will be in the edge of Earth’s orbit.
I honestly think that the person will be lighter or the same due to the Earth’s micro gravity or the gravity isn’t effecting your weight, it is effecting the area around you. That is my honest answer.
I think he will weigh lighter because if your above the atmosphere there will be less air pressure, but if you were in the earth’s atmosphere you would be pulled down by a crushing weight. So maybe 100 or less.
I think that he would weigh around 80-90 pounds because he looked up and was able to see the astronauts and they were weightless but he is not high enough to be weightless because he is still on the mountain.
I think that he would still be 150 because first of all, this sounds like a trick question and second of all, he couldn’t go that high because he would loose oxygen and gravity. How come he did not float like everyone else?
I think he will way about 100 pounds because he still has weight to stay on the mountian and he wont have much less weight because he is still in atmosphere.
I think he will be weightless because he is the exact height that the Iss is, so, therefore he would probbably be weightless. And, he’s in the atmosphere and if you climb Mt. Everest and weigh yourself, you would be lighter than you were on Earth.
I think you would weigh around 120 pounds being far from the center of the earth witch theroleticly is the center of gravity it makes sense to weigh that much.
I think he would weigh about 200 pounds because he’s still in the atmosphere and gravity would push his weight down.
Weightless because If the space shuttle was on Earth it would weigh a lot but where it is,it is weightless. That means that the only 150 pound person would way nothing.
I think they will weigh about .3 lbs because their body will still partly be in the atmosphere so that would make them still weigh a little bit.
He would probbably weigh at least 45 pounds because he still needs to be able to stand on the scale to see his weight.
Well, if he is a alien creature and could breath outside the atmosphere he would weigh about about a couple hundredths of a pound, but it depends on his weight. If he was just below the atmosphere border, he would weigh about 200-300 lbs. Theoretically, if he was weightless, he wouldn’t be able to stand on the scale. If science + gravity did their role, he would weigh about maybe 1/100-1/900 of a pound. He practically would have his legs broken because of the crippling air pressure, then the rest of his body broken. My final answer would be a couple one hundredths of a pound since gravity is doing its role.
I would so pose that you wold be lighter. Why I say this because there is less air pressure in space. For instance if there is is even 1% of air in space you would still be lighter. Probably about .10 ounces.
I think he would weigh about 1.5 pounds because he is barely out of the atmosphere and the astronauts are weightless.
I think he will be almost weightless because he is barely outside the atmosphere. So,he will weight about almost half of his weight because he is in low orbit. Which,is 25 and lower.
He’s still in space so he’ll be weightless.But he’s on a mountain so he’ll be almost weightless.He’ll be about 10 pounds.