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Name: Sila
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Question:
Is it true that there is minimal friction in space? If so, there are still particles in the space that touch Earth. If there is minimal friction in space does that mean that the earth will fall in to the gravity of the sun, because its speed is being reduced by the friction?



Replies:
Sila,

There is minimal friction in space because there are very few particles with which to make contact. There is no significant gravity in space. Huge objects, such as planets, moons, and stars, feel and exert enough gravity to stay together in solar systems and galaxies. Objects such as rocks just bounce off each other. The fact that gravity holds everything tightly to the ground, and tightly together, is why friction matters so much on Earth.

As the Earth crashes into meteorites and other small objects, it does slow a very small amount per year. The death of the Sun will be more important. The Sun is a medium mass star. When it starts to die, it expands into a "red giant". This will destroy the Earth long before spiraling in can matter.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Instructor
Illinois Central College



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