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ARTICLE

Rocket aerodynamics

Rocket aerodynamics is the study of how air flows over a rocket and how this affects drag and stability. The nose cone and fins of a rocket are designed to minimise drag (air resistance) and to ...

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ARTICLE

Calculating rocket acceleration

How does the acceleration of a model rocket compare to the Space Shuttle? By using the resultant force and mass, acceleration can be calculated. Forces acting The two forces acting on rockets at ...

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ARTICLE

Seismic waves

When an earthquake occurs, the shockwaves of released energy that shake the Earth and temporarily turn soft deposits, such as clay, into jelly (liquefaction) are called seismic waves, from the ...

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ARTICLE

Artificial satellites

An artificial satellite is an object that people have made and launched into orbit using rockets. There are currently over a thousand active satellites orbiting the Earth. The size, altitude and ...

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ARTICLE

How do base isolators work?

Base isolation is a technique developed to prevent or minimise damage to buildings during an earthquake. It has been used in New Zealand, as well as in India, Japan, Italy and the USA. A ...

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ARTICLE

Principles of flight

For thousands of years, people have wanted to fly. Our legends and fairy tales are full of humans and animals that can fly – effortlessly gliding through the air. In real life, of course, no one ...

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ARTICLE

Lift-off

A rocket will launch and keep speeding up as long as the force pushing it upwards (thrust) is greater than the forces pulling and pushing it downwards (gravity and drag). Newton’s first law ...

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ARTICLE

Brief history of rockets – timeline

This timeline looks at some of the historical aspects of rockets - taking science and technology to new heights. 1232 - Chinese fire arrows The first true rocket is invented by the Chinese. Fire ...

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ARTICLE

Wing aspect ratio

Wing shapes and sizes of both birds and planes determine how they might perform or what they might be capable of (for example, gliding, sustained high speed and manoeuvrability). One way in which ...

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ARTICLE

Getting rockets into space

Rockets launched into space can be suborbital (brief visit to space) or orbital (staying in motion around the Earth) or can escape Earth’s gravity to travel deeper into space. What is space? The ...

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ARTICLE

Gravity and satellite motion

Gravity is a force that attracts all objects towards each other. People are attracted towards the Earth and the Earth towards people, the Moon and the Earth are attracted towards each other, and ...

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ARTICLE

A progression of flight - timeline

Use this timeline to find out more about the progression of flight in human history. 1000 BCE - First kites Kites are invented in China. 852 BCE - A king tries to fly The English King Bladud is ...

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ARTICLE

Feathers and flight

A bird is designed for flight. The combination of light weight, strength and shape, as well as precision control, is largely responsible for giving birds their special ability for sustained ...

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ARTICLE

Rockets and mass

The mass of a rocket is important for two reasons – an object with less mass accelerates more quickly, and an object with more mass has more gravitational force acting on it. To understand these ...

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ARTICLE

Non-renewable energy sources

Energy comes from many sources, and to describe these sources we use two terms: renewable and non-renewable. Non-renewable energy resources cannot be replaced – once they are used up, they will ...

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ARTICLE

Causes of aerodynamic drag

Aerodynamics is the study of how air flows over objects and the forces that the air and objects exert on each other. Drag is the force of wind or air resistance pushing in the opposite direction ...

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Under the Earth’s surface

The Earth is an enormous place. There is so much that we don’t yet know about what happens on the surface of the Earth, so how could we possibly know about what happens deep down below the ...

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Wing loading

You can tell a great deal about how a bird lives or what a plane has been designed for just from its wing shape and size. Wings of both birds and planes determine how they might perform or what ...

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ARTICLE

Our Solar System – revolutionary ideas

Since the earliest times, humans have made observations of the night sky. These observations, particularly of the Earth, Moon, Sun and planets (visible to the naked eye), led to the development ...

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ACTIVITY

Launch simulator challenge

In this activity, students use a rocket launch simulation. They change variables such as thrust to make a rocket go as high as possible. By the end of this activity, students should be able to ...

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ARTICLE

Wings and lift

For a plane or bird to fly, its wings must produce enough lift to equal its weight. Most wings used in flight are a special shape – called aerofoils (or airfoils). This shape is needed to help ...

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ARTICLE

Launching satellites

Launching a satellite into orbit requires consideration of a number of major science ideas. These include gravity, circular motion and atmospheric drag. Atmospheric drag Satellites need to be ...

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ARTICLE

Seeing atoms

Nanotechnology is possible partly because tools have been developed to ‘see’ particles of matter a nanometre (nm) across, or smaller. That’s less than a billionth of a metre. When the idea of ...

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