The purpose of this lab is to illustrate the measurement of the mass of a planet using Kepler's third law. The software provides a view of Jupiter at four magnifications, along with a highly accurate ephemeris program that draws the four Galilean satellites in their proper positions relative to the planet at any time. Students make observations of Jupiter and its satellites at regular intervals over a period of several weeks and, by graphing the separation of each moon from Jupiter versus time, they measure the period and radius of each satellite's orbit. This is sufficient information to derive the mass of Jupiter. Students use the mouse cursor to identify the moons and to measure distances. This is part of a larger collection of simulations, Project CLEA, hosted at Gettysburg College.


    Education Levels:

    • Grade 1
    • Grade 6
    • Grade 8
    • Grade 9


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