Mon October 17, 2011 By: Chandranath Jha

what is gravitational potential energy?

Expert Reply
Tue October 18, 2011

Gravitational potential energy is energy an object possesses because of its position in a gravitational field. The most common use of gravitational potential energy is for an object near the surface of the Earth where the gravitational acceleration can be assumed to be constant at about 9.8 m/s2. Since the zero of gravitational potential energy can be chosen at any point (like the choice of the zero of a coordinate system), the potential energy at a height h above that point is equal to the work which would be required to lift the object to that height with no net change in kinetic energy. Since the force required to lift it is equal to its weight, it follows that the gravitational potential energy is equal to its weight times the height to which it is lifted.


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