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10 False Science Facts Everyone Knows


6
There's no gravity in space.
Juggling isn't such an awesome party trick in microgravity. Image courtesy NASA
Juggling isn't such an awesome party trick in microgravity. Image courtesy NASA

If you're like me, one of the scariest things about space is the fact that gravity doesn't exist there. If you fall out of the space shuttle -- admittedly, a strange thing to happen, but just go with it since you can't contradict my personal phobia -- you don't hit anything. You just float, forever, dead or alive, until you bump into an alien planet filled with mean birds. (Another phobia. Don't judge.)

But good news for those of us who fear our clumsiness would cause a literal trip into outer space: Gravity does exist in space! We're not saying that previous astronauts were faking weightlessness. Rather they were experiencing microgravity, or gravity that's quite weak in comparison with what we experience on Earth. It exists in spacecraft orbiting Earth because the spacecraft are literally kept in orbit by the Earth's gravity, which still exerts a power hundreds of miles from the planet [source: Glenn Research Center].

Just as you previously thought, if an astronaut were to slip on a banana peel in the space station, she definitely would not fall down. Instead, we're saying that microgravity is making her fall at the same rate that everything else is falling, around each other. Hence the floating effect.


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