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What is the slingshot effect?

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The "slingshot effect" is a term for a space probe or ship using the speed of a planetary body in order to build the speed of the probe. This requires launching the probe at the right time so that the planet's rotation launches the probe in the correct direction.

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What is the slingshot effect?
Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center CC-BY-2.0

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Launching the probe at the right time also ensures that little to no energy is lost during the slingshot. The slingshot effect can provide much extra speed to a probe taking advantage of a large spatial body's rotation. In some cases, the slingshot effect may have protected the Earth by helping to deflect asteroids that would have otherwise collided with the planet.

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