A Zero-G experience is coming to Rochester this weekend, but what exactly is a G?

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A plane called G FORCE-ONE is being chartered by a company called Deprez Travel, and they’re inviting people to come experience what zero G’s feel like this weekend. You can get more information about this event here.

Sounds cool right? But, how exactly does this work? I want to dive into the science behind it all. What exactly is a G?  

G-Force Explained

First things first, G-force is used to describe the resulting force felt from changes in acceleration due the effects of gravity. 1 “G” is the acceleration due to gravity that we feel right here at the Earth’s surface (measured in force per unit mass). On Earth, gravity is approximately 9.8 m/s2 (meters per second squared).

Zero G-force is produced when the surface of an object is being pushed upon by another object, and the resulting force is an equal and opposite pull. This results in a feeling of “zero force” weightlessness because the opposing forces cancel each other out.

When we experience zero G-force, it means that the net forces we feel on our body are virtually zero. This is something you get close to achieving when you’re on the moon. You’re not quite weightless, but the moon’s gravitational force on you is about 0.166 G. That’s about 1/6 the amount of gravity we feel on Earth.

The zero-G effect can be achieved on Earth by having a plane fly in a specific parabolic flight maneuver. A parabola is a “U-shaped” path and can be replicated in the sky to achieve this goal. The plane does this by taking nose dives at specific angles over a certain distance, over a specific amount of time. This process allows you to go from one opposing force to the other, and once you’re at the top of the parabola the net forces on you are zero, which means you feel zero-G’s. Essentially, the flight’s path perfectly matches and opposes the force of gravity. Since we can’t turn gravity off, it’s a clever way of simulating things as if we could. This gives you that “floaty” effect where you don’t weigh anything at all. Pretty cool, right?

Image courtesy: incredible-adventures.com

It’s a misconception that it’s solely gravity that causes the G-force effect we feel, but the resulting force actually comes from the changes in acceleration. We feel these changes because of gravity.

G-Force Comparison

On the other side of the spectrum, when an object’s velocity changes faster than gravity can change it, the effect you feel is typically greater than 1 G. So when you’re ascending and descending the forces are NOT equal, specifically more than the force of gravity pulling down on you , and you feel this change from the change in acceleration that’s more than the force of gravity

It’s said that the average person can only withstand G-forces that are less than 50 G’s. Experiencing 40-50 G’s can result in serious injury, or even death.

A similar effect is felt when you’re at the top of a rollercoaster. If you’ve been to Seabreeze or Darien Lake recently, then you may remember this feeling. When you go up and down a hill you briefly experience a similar but lesser effect of zero-G at the top and the bottom.

Feeling like going to space yet? If not, read this article again and re-think about it.

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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