Conservation Of Momentum

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Laboratory V: Conservation of Momentum
Problem #1: Perfectly Inelastic Collisions
John Greavu
April 17, 2013
Physics 1301W, Professor: Evan Frodermann, TA: Mark Pepin

Abstract
A cart was given an initial velocity toward another stationary cart down a track. The initial velocity of the first cart as well as the masses of both carts was varied throughout multiple trials. Velcro placed on the ends of the carts caused the cars to stick together after colliding. Videos of the collision and the seconds just before and after were taken. Data was then uploaded and plotted in MotionLab were it was used to create construct velocity vs. time graphs for each trial. After analyzing the data and the subsequent graphs the final velocity equation for two objects (each of known mass) that have collided directly head-on in a perfectly inelastic collision was determined as a function of the initial velocities and masses of the two objects.

Introduction
“You work for NASA with a group designing a docking mechanism that would allow two space shuttles to connect with each other. The mechanism is designed for one shuttle to move carefully into position and dock with a stationary shuttle. Since the shuttles may be carrying different payloads and different amounts of fuel, their masses may not be identical: the shuttles could be equally massive, the moving shuttle could be more massive, or the stationary shuttle could have a larger mass. Your supervisor wants you to calculate the magnitude and direction of the velocity of the pair of docked shuttles, as a function of the initial velocity of the moving shuttle and the mass of each shuttle. You may assume that the total mass of the two shuttles is constant. You decide to model the problem in the lab using carts to check your predictions.”
In order to construct a space shuttle docking mechanism for NASA, this lab called for calculating the final velocity of two objects that have collided via a perfectly inelastic collision. In a perfectly

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