Apollo: How realistic was the experiment dropping a hammer and feather on the moon?

Question

Good TV – but I always doubted the experimental usefulness.
Dropped by hand, with only a TV camera for timing?
I imagine a similar experiment on Earth (after Galileo) would use:
Equipment to release the items
Equipment to time hitting the ground
A longer drop to measure any hypothetical difference better.

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General Physics RvTDLR 4 years 1 Answer 576 views 0

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Answer ( 1 )

  1. It showed that on the earth the feather takes many times longer than the hammer. On the moon the difference was not visible.
    The prediction had been that the rates of fall are (largely) independent of mass.
    On earth this is testable for large masses easily enough. Galileo did that.
    The hypothesis is that for smaller masses we know that the difference is a lot greater and that we suggest this is caused by air resistance.
    We eliminated air resistance on the moon and the results were consistent with the prediction.

    To actually show that the rates are the SAME is impossible.
    Even with the very best timers imaginable there is still always some room for error.

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