Escape from Pluto

On a routine research expedition to Pluto, you have an unpleasant encounter with aliens, and wish to leave. Your ship computer indicates you only have enough fuel to quickly accelerate to 1 km/sec. Then you will coast into space, slowing as Pluto's gravity pulls on you. You want to know if 1 km/sec at launch is enough to reach a rescue ship, 100,000km from Pluto. If it is not enough, you will fall back down to Pluto, and crash. In that case, you may as well stay put, and deal with the aliens. How can you find out if 1 km/sec is enough escape? Think about this before reading on...


Fortunately, you have an excellent wi-fi connection, and can use this Google spreadsheet template to build an escape velocity calculator:

EscapeVelocityTemplateScreenShot

If you prefer, you can use this Excel spreadsheet as a template.

Note that the spreadsheet is only a template. The data needs to match your situation, and you need to provide the missing formulas.

You can download the handout here.

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