Glossary

Gravity Well

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Gravity Well

A gravity well or gravitational well is a conceptual model of the gravitational field surrounding a body in space – the more massive the body the deeper and more extensive the gravity well associated with it.

The Sun is very massive relative to other bodies in the Solar System so the corresponding gravity well that surrounds it appears 'deep' and far-reaching. The gravity wells of asteroids and small moons conversely are often depicted as very shallow. Anything on the surface of a planet or moon is considered to be at the bottom of that celestial body's gravity well and so escaping the effects of gravity from such a planet or moon (to enter outer space) is sometimes called 'climbing out of the gravity well'. The deeper a gravity well is the more energy any space-bound 'climber' must use to escape it.

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