In this article, you learn to understand two things: Gravity wells and the meme ELI5. Which stands for “Explain It To Me Like I‘m 5“.
So now that we have the meme part covered and explained, it’s time to move on to the more difficult part: Gravity well.
Usually, this would be a topic, way too complex to explain on sites like this, which is focused more on entertaining facts and videos and not pure science like gravity wells. To top things off, I’m way too stupid to explain this phenomenon to others, as I barely understand it myself.
But I stumbled across a very cool graphic created by the one and only Randall Munroe of xkcd. His comic explains this difficult topic in a visually appealing and easy to understand way.
Imagine this: You and your best buddy hold a blanket up in their air. You both grab it firmly and pull it on all four ends. It’s basically flat, like a huge piece of paper. Now your 2nd best friend throws a golf ball in the middle of the blanket. It will create a small dent in the blanket, pointing towards the floor.
He picks it up again and this time throws a watermelon in the middle. The dent will be much, much bigger this time. Now you could think of the golf ball as being a tiny planet (Pluto) and the watermelon a big one, like Jupiter as an example.
That’s basically how gravity wells look and work like. The bigger the planet, the bigger the dent. If you want to know more about how gravity wells work, head over to Wikipedia!
Another interesting fact is the speed a rocket needs to break away from a planet’s gravity field.
NASA Video depicts how fast you would need to go to escape the planets gravity well.
Mercury: 15,300 km/h
Venus: 37,297 km/h
Earth: 40,283 km/h
Mars: 18,108 km/h
Jupiter: 216,721 km/h
Saturn: 129,924 km/h
Uranus: 76,968 km/h
Neptune: 84,816 km/h
To see planets in relative scale:
As you can see, you would need quite a powerful rocket to be able to leave Jupiter once you end up there. (Not claiming you would survive for very long, but you get the point).
On the other hand, getting away from Mercury wouldn’t require a very powerful rocket. Maybe even a powerful robotic bird would be enough. (Almost!)
To wrap things up. We found a cool game for your mobile phone that combines planets, gravity, and golf. It’s called Astro Golf – a fun game, with a 5* rating.