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Practice Questions on Gravitational Potential

You will need these data for the questions:

G = 6.67 10-11 N m2 kg-2,
Mass of the Earth = 6.0 1024 kg,
Radius of the Earth = 6.4 106 m,
Mass of the Sun = 2.0 1030 kg,
Average distance from the Earth to the Sun = 1.5 1011 m.

1. Two stars of masses 6.2 1032 kg and M are 1.4 1016 m apart. The gravitational
field strength is zero at a point P which is 1.5 1015 m from M along the line between
the two stars.


6.2 1032 kg
What is the value of M? (3)

2. Calculate the gravitational potential at the Earths surface. (2)

3. At what height above the Earth does the gravitational potential fall to half the value
you worked out in question 2? (2)

4. The diagram shows two orbits that are 100 km and 200 km above the Earths surface.


a. Calculate the gravitational potential at the points P and Q shown on the

diagram. (4)
b. How much energy is needed to move a rocket of mass 33000 kg from P to Q?
c. Explain why no work is done in moving the rocket from P to R. (2)
5. The gravitational potential at a point 4.5 107 m from the centre of a planet is 130
MJ kg-1.
a. Calculate the mass of the planet. (2)
b. Why is the potential negative? (2)

6. A satellite is put into geostationary orbit.

a. Calculate the height to which a geostationary satellite must be sent above the
Earth. (3)
b. Explain why this question can be answered with such little information.
c. The satellite has a mass of 1500 kg. How much energy has to be supplied?

Total = 50 marks