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Investigate how mass affects the diameter of an impact crater.

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PHYSICS COURSEWORK ASTEROIDS Asteroids, also known as small or minor planets are irregular bodies that vary in size and composition. They are usually found in the inner solar system among planets and primarily move in indirect orbits between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, however some orbit relatively nearby to Earth. This is the prime concern with asteroids; where in the past collision with Earth has had tremendous affects and possibility of future collisions will always exist. This concern has been popularised in many forms and everyday the rate of technology intended to reduce the impact of any likely future asteroid collision is expanding. In order to recreate and demonstrate an increase or decrease in the impact of an asteroid, measurable by its crater size, my outcome variable is: How a chosen factor affects the diameter of an impact crater. There are many factors that have a form of influence: Mass - The gravitational potential energy stored by an object is significantly determined by the amount of matter it contains. As the mass increases, the potential increases, hence the kinetic energy increases causing an increase in the size of impact. Speed - The speed at which a falling object is travelling will have a major affect on the impact of crater. Hence crater size increases with increasing speed. Height - The speed of the object is dependant on the height at which it is falling. Therefore these two variables are linked. Air resistance - It is known that small objects have very little air resistance. For example it takes a dropped, small ball longer to hit the surface than a larger ball. Therefore this proves that large objects are affected by a significant amount of air resistance, this will change the way the object moves. Gravity - Objects are moved by the force of gravity pulling on it. For example gravity on earth would enhance the attractiveness of an asteroid, whereas on the moon, where the pull of gravity is less, the object would take more time to collide with the surface. ...read more.


METHOD: I am now able to verify the apparatus needed to complete the investigation: * Large plastic tray * Fine aquarium gravel to fill the tray * Plasticine * Meter ruler to measure height * Two stand, bosses & clamps to hold metre ruler and plasticine ball * Standard ruler used for leveling of aquarium gravel * Electric scale to measure mass of plasticine * Vernier caliper to measure crater size * Safety goggles (optional) * Set square (optional) Below is a diagram showing how the apparatus should be set up: The following steps will need to be carried out in order to conduct an accurate and more importantly successful experiment: 1. Begin by setting out the apparatus as shown in the diagram above. It is required that 1/3 of the plastic tray is filled with the provided fine aquarium gravel. 2. Ensure that the vacant boss of the clamp (right) is positioned directly above the surface so an attached ball will fall directly below onto the surface. 3. Knowing the first range of mass is 5g, using the plasticine adjust the size until the mass totals 5g on the electric scale. 4. Tighten the plasticine ball to the vacant boss of the clamp ensuring that it is positioned at 1m height. A set square placed against the stand can be used to ensure the ball is placed at a straight angle. 5. Using the standard ruler provided smooth the fine aquarium gravel so it is level. 6. Now ensuring that the boss holding the plasticine is positioned at the correct height (1m), the plasticine is placed at a straight angle and the surface is smooth, loosen the boss and the plasticine should fall onto the surface using the force of only gravity. 7. Without putting any pressure on the ball, remove it from the surface. 8. Finally using a vernier caliper measure the diameter of the created crater. ...read more.


Improvements: No matter how accurate produced results are, due to the restriction in apparatus provided and the time to complete the investigation, improvements will always be applicable. Possible improvements: * The accuracy of using a vernier caliper to record results was overwhelming; however diversified professional equipment would develop beyond this. For example using an electronic tape measure it would not only measure the crater size formed, but would also calculate other useful related information to the result using its built-in functionalities. A more manageable form of measuring accuracy would be using a piece of string to line the crater and then measure the string using a ruler, thus working out in-depth dimensions of the crater. * Knowing that I only experimented three heights during my preliminary, and in addition none of these heights were actually used in the experiment, it would have been useful to experiment a wider range of heights before determining the constant. * Even though three repeats for each recording was accurate enough to produce a reliable average, increasing this to five or six recordings may have bought about possible impediments of restriction which could have then been analysed. Extending the investigation: * It would be useful to extend the range of masses investigated and see if the observed trend continues. * As mentioned at the opening of my coursework, an angle of impact would have a dramatic affect on the crater size formed. Therefore it would be interesting to observe the results when varying the angle of falling objects, but as justified earlier, this cannot be conducted in a classroom with the provided apparatus therefore this would have to be setup elsewhere with better equipment. * Another form of extending the investigation, primarily out of curiosity, would be varying the shapes of objects with the continuous variation of masses which would expectedly form unusual, interesting results. APPENDIX: Internet sources used to construct my background knowledge: * http://www.geocities.com/j31645/15.html * http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/wcee/keep/Mod1/Whatis/energyforms.htm * http://phun.physics.virginia.edu/topics/energy.html 1 ...read more.

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