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Projectile Motion

An object given an initial velocity and then left to move

freely under gravity is a projectile.

A golfer hit ball A. It took 5 seconds to land in the position shown.

He then hit ball B with less force. How long did it take to land in its
a. 4 seconds
b. 5 seconds
c. 6 seconds

The Adventures of Speedy!

Horizontal and vertical motion are

independent !

Horizontal and vertical motion are

independent (90)
There are the two components of the
projectile's velocity horizontal vX and
vertical vY .
The horizontal component of its velocity
does not change.

Gravity is the
only force

vX is constant


Projectile motion is
free fall with an
initial horizontal

Horizontal constant velocity

Use equations like s = v x t

Projectile motion is
free fall with an
initial horizontal
velocity. It combines
constant horizontal
velocity and
accelerated vertical
Vertical a simple free fall
Use equations like s= gt2
and g = v/t

The horizontal and

vertical motions are
independent of each other,
but they have a common
Air resistance is ignored

Caught by slow motion

The yellow ball is given an
initial horizontal
velocity and the red ball
is dropped. Both balls
fall at the same rate.


A ball is thrown horizontally

from a cliff with an initial
velocity of 3ms-1. It landed 9
meters away.
a. How long did it take to land?
b. How high is the cliff?
c. What was its velocity just
before hitting the ground?

The horizontal motion:

t = 9/3 = 3 s
The vertical motion
s= gt2
s = x-9.8 x 32 = -44.1m

The vertical motion

g = v/t
v = -9.8 x 3 = -29.4 ms-1

Package drop

The package follows a parabolic path and remains

directly below the plane at all times
The vertical velocity changes (faster, faster)
The horizontal velocity is constant!

Summary Q
1. An object is released, 50m above the ground, from a hot air balloon,
which is descending vertically at a speed of 4.0ms -1. Calculate:
a. The velocity of the object at the ground
b. The duration of descent of the object
c. The height of the balloon above the ground when the object hits the

a. v2 = u2 + 2as
v2 = (-4)2 + 2 x-9.8 x -50

v = -31.6ms-1

b. a =(v-u)/t
-9.8 = (-31.6--4) / t
t = 2.8 s

c. After 2.8 seconds, distance travelled by the

balloon is 4x2.8 = 11.2m
That is 38.8m above the ground

u = -4ms-1


2. An object is projected horizontally at a speed of 16ms -1 into the sea

from a cliff top of height 45.0m. Calculate:
a. How long it takes to reach the sea
b. How far it travels horizontally
c. Its impact vertical velocity.

a. Taking vertical motion

s= gt2
-45 = x -9.8 x t2

b. Taking horizontal motion

s = 16 x 3 = 48m

c. The vertical motion

g = v/t
v = gt
v = -9.8 x 3 = -29.4 ms-1


3. A dart is thrown horizontally along a line passing through the centre of

a dartboard, 2.3 m away from the point at which the dart was
released. The dart hits the dartboard at a point 0.19m below the
centre. Calculate:
a. The time of flight of the dart
b. Its horizontal speed of projection.

a. Taking vertical motion

s= gt2
-0.19 = x -9.8 x t2
t = 0.197 s = 0.2 s

a. Taking horizontal motion

v = s/t
v = 2.3/0.197 = 11.7 ms-1

2.3 m

4. A parcel is released from an aircraft travelling horizontally at a speed

of 120ms-1 above level ground.
The parcel hits the ground 8.5 seconds later. Calculate:
a. The height of the aircraft above the ground
b. The horizontal distance travelled in this time by i) the parcel, ii) the
c. The speed of impact of the parcel on the ground.

a. Taking vertical motion

s = gt2
s = x -9.8 x 8.52 = -354 m
b. Taking horizontal motion
s = 120 x 8.5 = 1020m
This is the distance travelled by the aircraft and the parcel
c. Taking vertical motion
g = v/t
vertical speed v = -9.8 x 8.5 = -83.3 ms-1
Horizontal speed = 120 ms-1
(resultant speed)2 = 83.32 + 1202 Resultant speed = 146 ms-1

A native hunter in the Amazon is hunting monkeys with a bow and a

tranquiliser arrow. The hunter aims at a monkey sitting on a branch. As
the hunter releases the arrow the monkey notices the movement and
drops off the branch. What happens next?
A. The arrow misses, passing above the monkey.
B. The arrow hits the monkey.
C. You need to know the distance to know what happens.

The monkey was a bit too smart for

its own good. If the monkey had not
dropped from the branch the arrow
would have followed a parabolic
path, passing under the branch
missing the monkey. The arrow's yposition changes in the same way
as the monkey's y-position changes
when it drops off the branch. Thus
the arrow's path curves to meet the

A zookeeper wants to throw a banana to the monkey who hangs from

the limb of a tree. This particular monkey has a habit of dropping from
the tree the moment that he sees the zookeeper throwing the banana.

In the presence of gravity, banana moves in a parabolic path. The

monkey also accelerates downward once he lets go of the limb. Both
banana and monkey experience the same acceleration. So the monkey
will catch the banana.