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Free Fall vs. Projectile Motion: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on February 5, 2024
Free fall is a motion under the influence of gravity only, without any initial horizontal velocity. Projectile motion is a motion of an object thrown or projected into the air, subject to gravity and initial velocity.

Key Differences

Free fall is a type of motion where an object moves under the influence of gravity alone, without any initial horizontal velocity. Projectile motion involves both a vertical component, like free fall, and a horizontal component due to initial velocity.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024
In free fall, the only force acting on the object is gravity, causing it to accelerate downwards. Projectile motion, however, is the result of an initial thrust or velocity, which gives the object a curved trajectory.
Huma Saeed
Feb 05, 2024
Objects in free fall experience acceleration due to gravity, typically 9.8 m/s², without any resistance or propulsion. In projectile motion, the object's horizontal velocity remains constant while the vertical component is affected by gravity.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024
Free fall occurs when an object is dropped from a height with no initial horizontal push. Projectile motion occurs when an object is thrown or propelled, like a ball being kicked or a bullet being fired.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024
The trajectory of a free-falling object is a straight line. In contrast, the trajectory of a projectile is parabolic due to its initial horizontal velocity and vertical acceleration.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 05, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Initial Velocity

No initial horizontal velocity
Initial velocity in at least one direction
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024

Forces Acting

Only gravity
Gravity and initial thrust or velocity
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024

Trajectory

Straight line downwards
Parabolic due to combined vertical and horizontal motion
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024

Velocity Components

Only vertical component changes
Both horizontal and vertical components
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024

Typical Examples

Dropping an object from a height
Throwing a ball, firing a bullet
Janet White
Feb 05, 2024
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Free Fall and Projectile Motion Definitions

Free Fall

Acceleration at 9.8 m/s² downwards due to gravity.
The stone accelerated in free fall after being dropped.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 06, 2024

Projectile Motion

Motion caused by gravity and initial thrust or velocity.
The football followed a curved path due to projectile motion.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 06, 2024

Free Fall

No air resistance acting on the falling object.
In a vacuum, all objects experience free fall at the same rate.
Harlon Moss
Jan 06, 2024

Projectile Motion

A parabolic trajectory combining vertical and horizontal movements.
The basketball displayed projectile motion as it arced towards the hoop.
Huma Saeed
Jan 06, 2024

Free Fall

Movement under gravity with no initial horizontal speed.
An apple falling from a tree is in free fall.
Huma Saeed
Jan 06, 2024

Projectile Motion

Starts with an initial velocity in at least one direction.
The arrow's projectile motion began with its release from the bow.
Janet White
Jan 06, 2024

Free Fall

A straight-line downward trajectory.
The dropped ball's path was a straight line, indicating free fall.
Janet White
Jan 06, 2024

Projectile Motion

Horizontal velocity remains constant; vertical velocity changes.
In projectile motion, the cannonball's horizontal speed stayed constant.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 06, 2024

Free Fall

No propulsion or initial push.
In free fall, the object had no initial velocity other than gravity.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 06, 2024

Projectile Motion

Influenced by factors like angle of projection and initial speed.
Changing the angle of projection altered the object's projectile motion.
Janet White
Jan 06, 2024

Free Fall

Alternative spelling of freefall
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 05, 2024

Free Fall

Alternative spelling of freefall
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 05, 2024

FAQs

Does the mass of an object affect free fall?

In the absence of air resistance, mass does not affect the rate of free fall.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 05, 2024

Is air resistance a factor in free fall?

In ideal free fall, air resistance is negligible.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024

What is the acceleration of an object in free fall?

Typically 9.8 m/s² downwards, due to gravity.
Harlon Moss
Feb 05, 2024

How does angle of projection affect projectile motion?

It determines the range and height of the trajectory.
Janet White
Feb 05, 2024

Can projectile motion be horizontal?

Yes, if the initial velocity is purely horizontal.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 05, 2024

What shapes the trajectory of projectile motion?

A combination of initial velocity and gravity forms a parabolic path.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 05, 2024

What role does initial speed play in projectile motion?

It influences the distance and height reached by the projectile.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 05, 2024

What is free fall?

Movement of an object solely under the influence of gravity.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024

Is terminal velocity a concept in free fall?

Yes, it's the maximum velocity reached when air resistance equals gravitational force.
Janet White
Feb 05, 2024

What defines projectile motion?

Motion with both vertical and horizontal components due to gravity and initial velocity.
Huma Saeed
Feb 05, 2024

Are satellites in free fall?

Yes, they are in continuous free fall around the Earth.
Harlon Moss
Feb 05, 2024

Does wind affect projectile motion?

Yes, wind can alter the trajectory of a projectile.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024

What factors can alter projectile motion?

Initial speed, angle of projection, and air resistance.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024

Can projectile motion occur without gravity?

No, gravity is essential for creating the parabolic path.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024

Can free fall occur in a vacuum?

Yes, free fall in a vacuum is unaffected by air resistance.
Janet White
Feb 05, 2024

Is free fall possible on the Moon?

Yes, but with a lower acceleration due to the Moon's weaker gravity.
Janet White
Feb 05, 2024

Do objects of different weights fall at the same rate in free fall?

In the absence of air resistance, they fall at the same rate.
Janet White
Feb 05, 2024

What is the velocity of an object at the peak of its free fall?

At the peak, vertical velocity is zero before it starts falling back.
Harlon Moss
Feb 05, 2024

How does height of release affect projectile motion?

It can impact the time of flight and distance traveled.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 05, 2024

Does the size of an object affect its projectile motion?

Not directly, but air resistance can have more effect on larger objects.
Janet White
Feb 05, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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