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Notes on Centripetal Force Newton’s first law states that an object in motion will continue its motion, in a straight line. Therefore, if an object is moving in a circle, there must be a net force on the object to cause the circular motion. Centripetal force (Fc) is the NET force that keeps an object moving in a circle. It is directed towards the center of the circle. V Fc R Centripetal acceleration (ac) = V2/R = 2R, where is expressed in terms of radians Net Force = mass x acceleration (Newton’s second law) Therefore, centripetal force = mass x centripetal acceleration Fc = mac = mV2 / R = m2R, where is expressed in terms of radians Fc = (Forces pointing towards the center) – (Forces pointing away from center) Centripetal force is often set equal to another force, such as: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Gravitational force Electrostatic force Tension Friction Normal Force