Statement of a problem № 41138


The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft has a special orbit, chosen so that its view of the Sun is never eclipsed and it is always close enough to the Earth to transmit data easily. It moves in a near-circle around the Sun that is smaller than the Earth’s circular orbit. Its period, however, is just equal to 1 yr. It is always located between the Earth and the Sun along the line joining them. Both objects exert gravitational forces on the observatory. Show that its distance from the Earth must be between 1.47 X 109m and 1.48 X 109 m. In 1772 Joseph Louis Lagrange determined theoretically the special location allowing this orbit. The SOHO spacecraft took this position on February 14, 1996. Suggestion: Use data that are precise to four digits. The mass of the Earth is 5.983 X 1024 kg.

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