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Height of a Zero Gravity Parabolic Flight

Math 1010 Intermediate Algebra Group Project


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Have you ever wondered what it might feel like to float


weightless in space? One way to try it out is to fly on a special
aircraft that astronauts use to train for their trips to space.
Both NASA and the Russian Space Agency have been flying
these for years. The way this is accomplished

is to fly to a high

altitude, drop down to gain speed, and then start a large


parabolic path up in the sky. For a time ranging from 10 to 20 seconds, along the top part of the
parabolic flight, an environment

simulating zero gravity is created within the plane. This effect can

cause some nausea in the participants,


for zero-G parabolic training flights.

giving rise to the name "Vomit Comet", the plane used by NASA

Currently there is a private company that will sell you a zero-G ride,

though it is a bit expensive, around $5000.


This lab will have you take a look at the parabolic path to try to determine the maximum altitude the
plane reaches. First, you will work with data given about the parabola to come up with a quadratic
model for the flight.

Then you will work to find the maximum value of the model.

Now for the data:

Height of a Zero-G Right t Seconds After


Starting a Parabolic Flight Path
Time tin seconds
Height h in feet

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h = at2 + bt + c.
The data points given are just like x and y values, where the x value is the time t in seconds and
To find the quadratic model, you will be plugging the data into the model

the y value is the altitude h in feet. Plug these into the model and you will get equations with a,
band c.

Part 1: Write your 3 by 3 system of equations for a, b, and c.

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Part 3: Using your solutions to the system from part 2 to form your quadratic model of the data.

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Part 4: Find the maximum value of the quadratic function.

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Part 5: Sketch the parabola.

Label the given data plus the maximum point. A good way to start labeling

your axes is to have the lower left point be (0, 25000)

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Part 6: Reflective Writing.

Did this project change the way you think about how math can be applied to the real world?
Write one paragraph stating what ideas changed and why. If this project did not change the
way you think, write how this project gave further evidence to support your existing opinion
about applying math. Be specific.

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