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Parabolic Flight

Math 1010 Intermediate Algebra Group

Project

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, giving rise to

the name Vomit Comet, the plane used by NASA for zero-G parabolic

training flights. Currently there is a private company that will sell you a zeroG 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:

Time t in

seconds

Height h in feet

Seconds After Starting a

Parabolic Flight Path

2

30,506

10

31,250

20

29,300

To find the quadratic model, you will be plugging the data into the

model . The data points given are just like x and y values, where the x

value is the time t in seconds and the y value is the altitude h in feet.

Plug these into the model and you will get equations with a, b and c.

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

h(2) = a(2)^2+b(2)+c = 4a+3b+c = 30,506.

h(10) = a(10)^2+b(10)+c = 100a+10b+c = 31,250.

h(20) = a(20)^2+b(20)+c = 400a+20b+c = 29,300.

1. 4a+2b+c=30,506.

2. 100a+10b+c = 31,250

3. 400a+20b+c = 29,300

Part 2: Solve this system. Make sure to show your work.

A:

1. 4a+2b+c=30,506.

1. c=-4a-2b+30,506

2. 100a+10b-4a-2b+30,506= 31,250

4. 96a+8b=744

B:

1. 4a+2b+c=30,506.

1. c=-4a-2b+30,506

3. 400a+20b+c = 29,300

3. 400a+20b-4a-2b+30,506 = 29,300

5.396a+18b=-1206

C:

4. 96a+8b=744

4.b=(-96a+744)/8

4.b=-12a+93

5.396a+18b=-1206

5.396a+18(-12a+93)=-1206

396a-216a+1674=-1206

180a=-2880

a=-16

D:

4.b=-12a+93

a=-16

4.b=-12(-16)+93

4.b=192+93

4.b=285

E:

1. 4a+2b+c=30,506.

a=-16

b=285

1. 4(-16)+2(285)+c=30,506.

1. -64+570+c=30,506.

1. 506+c=30,506.

1. 506+c=30,506.

c=30000

Solusions[a=-16, b=285, c=30000]

Part 3: Using your solutions to the system from part 2 to form your quadratic

model of the data.

h(t)=-16t^2+285t+30000

Part 4: Find the maximum value of the quadratic function. Make sure to

show your work.

-285 = -285 = 8.90625

2(-16) -32

h=at^2+bt+c

-16(8.90625)+285(8.90625)+30000=32395.78125

Maximum Height =32395.78125

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)

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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