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Module 7

Motion in Two and Three Dimension

Projectile is a body thrown with an initial velocity in the vertical plane and then it moves in two dimensions
under the action of gravity alone without being propelled by any engine or fuel. Its motion is called projectile
motion. The path of a projectile is called its
Gravity, being a downward force, causes a
projectile to accelerate in the downward direction.
The force of gravity could never alter the horizontal
velocity of an object since perpendicular
components of motion are independent of each
other. A vertical force does not affect a horizontal
motion. The result of vertical force acting upon a
horizontally moving object is to cause the object to deviate
from its otherwise linear path.

Figure: 1


A packet released from an airplane in flight.

A golf ball in flight.
A bullet fired from a rifle.
A jet of water from a hole near the bottom of a water tank.

Projectile motion is a case of two-dimensional motion .Any case of two dimensional motion can be resolved
into two cases of one dimensional motion -one along the x-axis and the other along the y-axis.The two cases
can be studied separately as two cases of one dimensional motion.The results from two cases can be
combined using vector algebra to see the net resul
A body can be projected in two ways:
1. Horizontal projection-When the body is given an initial velocity in the horizontal direction only.
2. Angular projection-When the body is thrown with an initial velocity at an angle to the horizontal
We will study the two cases separately. We will neglect the effect of air resistance. We will take x-axis along
the horizontal direction and y-axis along the vertical direction.

Case 1: Horizontlal Projection

A body is thrown with an initial velocity u along the
horizontal direction.We will study the motion along x
and y axis separately.We will take the starting point to
be at the origin.

Case 2: Angular Projection

We will now consider the case when the object is
projected with an initial velocity u at an angle to the
horizontal direction.
We assume that there is no air resistance .Also since the
body first goes up and then comes down after reaching
the highest point , we will use the Cartesian convention
for signs of different physical quantities.The acceleration due to gravity 'g' will be negative as it acts
We will separate the motion into horizontal motion (motion along x-axis) and vertical motion (motion along yaxis) .We will study x-motion and y-motion separately.

Some Characteristics of projectile given below [ Figure: 2 represent characteristics of


A projectile is any object upon which the

only force is gravity,

Projectiles travel with a parabolic

trajectory due to the influence of gravity,
There are no horizontal forces acting
upon projectiles and thus no horizontal
The horizontal velocity of a projectile is
constant (a never changing in value),
There is a vertical acceleration caused by
gravity; its value is 9.8 m/s/s, down,
The vertical velocity of a projectile
changes by 9.8 m/s each second,

Figure: 2
The horizontal motion of a projectile is independent of its vertical motion.

Original, or initial, conditions:

Given the original conditions with which the projectile is thrown we will proceed to find the components of the
original velocity and then move on to answer the following questions:
The original conditions are the size of the velocity and the angle above the
horizontal with which the projectile is thrown.
Original size of velocity


Original angle

X component of original velocity

vox = vo cos ()

Y component of original velocity

voy = vo sin ()

Path (trajectory) of the Projectile:

The initial velocity of the projectile Vo at t = 0 makes an angle with the positive x direction. The x and y
component of Vo is given by
vox = vocos() and
voy = vosin()
Because there is no horizontal component of acceleration and vertical component of velocity after any
arbitrary time t is given by
vx = vocos()


vy = vosin() +at


The magnitude of the resultant velocity vector,



v y2


The angle that the velocity vector makes with the horizontal at
that instant is given by,





The displacement along x and y axis at any time t is given as

x = vocos()t

Fig: The path of a projectile


y = vosin()t +

From equation (5), t

1 2


v o cos

Substituting the value of t in equation (6) we get,


y v o sin

ay 2
v o cos
v o cos 2

y (tan )x ( a y 2
)x 2
v o cos 2


This is the equation of the projectile. Since , vo and ay = -g are constant, this equation has the form, y = ax +
bx2, the equation of a parabola. Hence the trajectory of a projectile is a parabola.

How much time passes until the projectile is at the

top of its trajectory?
At the top of the trajectory the y, or upward, velocity of the
projectile will be 0.0 m/s. The object is still moving at this
moment, but its velocity is purely horizontal. At the top it is not
moving up or down, only across.

Notice that the object is still in motion at the top of the trajectory; however, its velocity is completely
horizontal. It has stopped going up and is about to begin going down. Therefore, its y velocity is 0.0 m/s.
We need to find out how much time passes from the time of the throw until the time when the y velocity of the
projectile becomes 0.0 m/s. We will call this amount of time 'the half time of flight', since the projectile will
spend one half of its time of flight rising to the top of its trajectory. It will spend the second half of its time of
flight moving downward.
We can use the following kinematics equation:

Vf V0 at
Subscript it for y:
Vfy V0 y ay t

Solve it for t:

Vfy V0 y

Plug in 0.0 m/s for Vfy :

0.0m / s V0 y



If the original y velocity and the y acceleration, i. e., the acceleration due to gravity, are plugged into the
above equation, it will solve for the amount of time that passes from the moment of release to the moment
when the projectile is at the top of its flight.
We know, voy = vosin


ay = - g

Then the time at which the vy is zero t =

V 0 sin V 0 sin



How much time passes until the projectile strikes the ground?
With no air resistance, the projectile will spend an equal amount of time rising to the top of its projectile as it
spends falling from the top to the ground. Since we have already found the half time of flight, we need only to
double that value to get the total time of flight.
Total time T = 2t
We know t

V 0 sin

Then the total time T 2

V 0 sin


How high does the projectile rise?

Here you need to find the displacement in the y direction at the time
when the projectile is at the top of its flight. We have just found the time
at which the projectile is at the top of its flight.
Here is the displacement formula:

d V0t

1 2

We must think of this displacement in the y direction, so we will subscript this formula for y:

d y V0 y t

ay t 2


If now we plug in the half time of flight, which was found above, we will solve for the height of the trajectory,
since the projectile is at its maximum height at this time.

voy = vosin, ay = -g,

Then d y V 0 y


V0 y

0.0m / s V0 y

V0 y
( g )

V0 y

1 2
1 2
V oy
V oy






1 2
v o sin 2


How far away does the projectile land from its starting point?
The distance from the starting point on the ground to the landing point on the ground is called the range of
the trajectory. This range is a displacement in the x direction. It is
governed by the x velocity of the projectile. This x velocity does not
change during the flight of the projectile. The x velocity remains
constant because there are no accelerations in the x direction. The
only acceleration is in the y direction, and this is due to the vertical
pull of gravity. Gravity does not pull horizontally. Therefore, the
calculation for the range is simplified.
Let us start with the general displacement formula:

d V0t

1 2

Since we are working in the x direction, we should subscript this

equation for x:

d x V0 x t

ax t 2

Now, since the acceleration in the x direction is 0.0 m/s2, the second term in the above equation drops out,
and we are left with:

d x V0 x t
The velocity in the x direction does not change. The projectile maintains its original x velocity throughout its
entire flight. So, the original x velocity is the only x velocity the projectile will have. We could, therefore, think
of the last equation as:

d x Vxt


If we plug in the original x velocity for vx and the total time of flight for t, we will solve for the horizontal
displacement, or range, of the trajectory.
Put vx = vocos()
Then, dx = vo cos
Range dx = R =

t 2

V0 y

v o sin

2v o sin
= o 2 sin cos

v o2
sin 2


When a projectile is projected some height h above the ground:

1. The range of a projectile fired horizontally from a cliff is equal to the height of the cliff. What is the direction
of the velocity vector when the projectile strikes the ground?
2. At half its maximum height, the speed of a projectile is three-fourths its initial speed. What is the angle of
the initial velocity vector with respect to the horizontal?
3. A rock is thrown with an initial speed of 30 m/s at an angle of 60 o above the horizontal. It is thrown from a
canyon floor and goes up into the air and then lands on the plateau, 20 m above the canyon floor. Where
does it hit the ground? Or, how far does it travel horizontally?
4. A projectile is fired with initial speed v at an angle 30 0 above the horizontal from a height of 40m above the
ground. The projectile strikes the ground with a speed of 1.2v.Find v.
5. A cannon ball (soaked in napalm) is shot off a 100 m-high cliff. The ball has an initial horizontal velocity,
but no vertical velocity. It strikes the ground 90.0 m from the base of the cliff. What was the initial velocity
(speed when thrown)?
6. A cricket ball is hit at 30 m/s at an angle of 53. Immediately an outfielder runs 4 m/s toward the infield
and catches the ball at the same height it was hit. What was the original distance between the batter and the
7. A football is thrown to a moving football player. The football leaves the quarterbacks hands 1.6m above
the ground with a speed of 14 m/s at an angle 30 o above the horizontal. If the receiver starts 11 m away from
the quarterback along the line of flight of the ball when it is thrown, what constant velocity must he have to
get to the ball at the instant it is 1.6m above the ground?
8. A rifle is aimed horizontally at a target 30 m away. The bullet hits the target 1.9 cm below the aiming point.
What are (a) the bullets time of flight and (b) its speed as it emerges from the rifle?
9. A projectile is fired with an initial speed of 120 m/s at an angle of 65 o above the horizontal from the top of
a cliff 100 m high. Find (i) the time to reach the maximum height, (ii) the maximum height, (iii) the total time in
the air, (iv) the horizontal range and (v) the components of the final velocity just before the projectile hits the
10. A ball is projected at an angle 42 o above the horizontal and with an initial velocity of 85 m/sec. (i) Find
the position of the projectile and the magnitude and direction of its velocity when t = 1.8 sec. (ii) Find the time
at which the projectile reaches the highest point of its flight, and find the elevation of this point. (iii) Find the
horizontal range.