Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Jumping on the Moon


In April 1972, three Apollo 16 Mission Astronauts, John Young, Thomas Mattingly and Charles Duke, spent 71 hours on the Moon conducting scientific experiments. Among the video clips transmitted back to the Earth during the mission is a clip showing one of the astronauts jumping on the moon.

Your mission in this activity is to verify the theoretical predictions for the acceleration of an object at the moon’s surface. Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation (Fgrav = Gm1m2/r2), along with measurements of the size and mass of the Earth and of the Moon, predicts that the magnitude of free-fall acceleration near the Earth’s surface is 9.8 m/s2. This equation also leads us to predict that free-fall acceleration on the Moon is about 1/6th of that on Earth. Theory is all well and good, but what really happens when someone jumps on the moon? The video clip you’ll be using was adapted from the Official Apollo 16 Mission website. Completing this mission will require you to obtain height vs. time data from the video clip and then use analytic mathematical modeling techniques.


In this activity, you will

  • Choose an analytic function that you think ought to describe the data.
  • Choose coefficients that lead to an equation that models your data.
  • Explore what the coefficients of the analytic function tell you about the details of the astronaut’s jump.

Software for Experiment

This experiment uses Logger Pro software for video analysis. The video for analysis is included with the lab book.

Physics with Video Analysis

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Rolling Ball
2Big and Small: How to Scale an Image
3Velocity Change
4Velocity and Speed
5Velocity and Acceleration
6Three Movies: Determining Constant Acceleration
7Demon Drop: A Mathematical Modeling Activity
8Jumping on the Moon
92D Vectors: Pool Ball Displacement, Velocity, and Speed
10Galileo's Projectile I: Using 17th Century Techniques
11Galileo's Projectile II: Using Contemporary Techniques
12Projectile Motion Vectors
13Frictional Slowing
14Impulsive Juggling
15Center of Mass Motions
16Finding a Spring Constant
17Net Work - Kinetic Energy Theorem
19Slinky Wave Speeds
20Superposition of Slinky Waves
21A Wave Pulse Equation
22Doppler Effect: Surface Water Waves
23Doppler Effect: Sound Waves
24A Heat Engine: Relating Work to the P-V Cycle
25Coulomb's Law for Two Charged Spheres
26Discharge Rate
27Electric Field Due to a Line of Charge
28Resistance and Ohm's Law
29Parallel Plate Capacitor: Potential Difference vs. Spacing
30Wiring Capacitors in Series and Parallel
31Using RC Decay to Determine Capacitance
32Exploring Faraday's Law
33Snell's Law of Refraction

Experiment 8 from Physics with Video Analysis Lab Book

<em>Physics with Video Analysis</em> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

Buy the Book

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