ATV Johannes Kepler – Orbits and body motion in space


This video is part of a series of educational videos that ESA is releasing based on the five visionaries that lent their name to Europe’s space freighters.

Jules Verne, Johannes Kepler, Edoardo Amaldi, Albert Einstein and Georges Lemaître form the inspiration to explain the principles of physics to young and older audiences.

Presented by Anu Ojha, this video offers a good basis to introduce schoolchildren and the general public to concepts of orbital mechanics.

Accompanying these videos are also a new set of resources that ESA education is producing: Teach with Space, a large set of demonstrations and teacher guides intended to bring the excitement of space into the classroom to inspire the next generation.

Classroom demos:

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  1. Very nice video! Clear and informative. I loved how realistic the graphic of the ATV spinning and tumbling as it gets destroyed by the atmosphere was too.

    One thing that was not included but would have been neat as you were showing some nice pedagogical graphics, would be some graphic that shows how an engine burn affects the orbit of a spacecraft. Such as how the ISS's orbit changes as the ATV engines fire. I think this would be one of the most informative things you could show to the public to show how spacecraft operate. It would give a good illustration of how kepler's second and third laws interact too.

    The most basic example would be how an engine burn along the velocity vector of a spacecraft increases the altitude at the point in the orbit opposite the the point where the burn happens. So to increase the altitude of a circular orbit you need two burns at different points in the orbit.

  2. The question I can't seem to find an answer to is this: Why do celestial bodies move? And I don't mean the gravity-of-neighboring-bodies thing, I get that; I'm talking about what actually propels the bodies in space to move? Is it just the overall gravity of all things interacting, even if only barely, with all things and causing it all to move?
    I mean, I get why all the moons and planets are in motion around the sun, but why is the sun and every other star in motion around the middle of the galaxy? Is it supermassive black holes that drive the movement of ALL bodies in space, then? Is it the pull of all other galaxies making the Milky Way move through space?
    *What is the genesis of movement in space???
    If it's just the gravity of a supermassive black hole that causes the movement of everything in the Milky Way, why doesn't everything just "fall" straight in toward that black hole? What is giving everything its speed to stay in its orbit?*

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