Question
Sun November 04, 2012 By:

which formula is more accurate for finding gravitational potential energy?

Expert Reply
Mon November 05, 2012
Gravitational ptential 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
U=mgh is the most general form for calculating gravitational potential energy.

From the work done against the gravity force in bringing a mass in from infinity where the potential energy is assigned the value zero, the expression for gravitational potential energy is

This expression is useful for the calculation of escape velocity, energy to remove from orbit, etc. However, for objects near the earth the acceleration of gravity g can be considered to be approximately constant and the expression for potential energy relative to the Earth's surface becomes

where h is the height above the surface and g is the surface value of the acceleration of gravity.

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