By Eugene Butikov
Add Planets and Satellites to your curriculum, and you'll see stellar performances from your students. The program makes learning fun by letting students pilot their own course through the physics of planetary systems, exploring the application of classical dynamics to stars, planets, natural and artificial satellites, and manned and automatic space vehicles. Once they master the basics, the program's structure allows for increasingly complex investigations of the subject matter.
This "desktop" laboratory is the first of its kind to offer a glimpse of orbital mechanics phenomena, which are difficult to study in a conventional manner. Students can construct a model of our solar system or create a new, imaginary world filled with stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, and satellites. Once the system is charted, it is easy to investigate how different orbital motions are governed by gravitional forces. students can clearly see how systems obeying simple and precise physical laws can behave in an unexpected, and even irregular, chaotic manner. In this unique forum phenomena can be observed with the Earthbound complications of friction and sir resistance.
In addition to being a valuable resource for independent study, Planets and Satellites provides instructors with powerful options as well, including the ability to vary parameters and repeat specific experiments. The structuring of levels by degree of difficulty and mathematical complexity is especially convenient. And for those who'd like more in-depth study, the last section of the user's manual delves into the serious theoritical background for computer-aided investigation of space dynamics. 216 pp.
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