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2.3.4 Surface gravity

Figure 38 The Moon, Ganymede, Ariel and Enceladus, shown at correct relative scale.

The strength of surface gravity on the Earth (measured as the rate at which a falling object accelerates) is 9.8 m s−2 (where m s−2 stands for metres per second per second, meaning the rate at which the speed of a falling object increases).

Read the following information and then try the quiz in the next step, where you are asked to match the correct value of surface gravity to different moons. Feel your way by making intelligent guesses – we don’t expect you to work out the value from first principles.

  • The Moon is a rocky body smaller than the Earth, whose surface gravity is about one-sixth of the Earth’s and whose diameter is 3474 km.
  • Ganymede is an icy moon of Jupiter whose diameter is 5262 km. Ice is less dense than rock.
  • Enceladus is an icy moon of Saturn whose diameter is 504 km.
  • Ariel is an icy moon of Uranus whose diameter is 1158 km.

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