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Uniform and non-uniform circular motion

Circular motion is the movement of an object on a circular path. This means that the movement of the object traces the arc of a circle (as opposed to following an arbitrary curved path).

Circular motion can be classified into uniform and non-uniform circular motion:

  • An object undergoing uniform circular motion moves with a constant speed (only the direction changes).

  • An object undergoing non-uniform circular motion moves with varying speed.

Unless otherwise mentioned, it is assumed (by convention) that objects undergoing circular motion do so uniformly (i.e. with constant speed).

A satellite orbits the earth in circular motion.
A satellite orbits the earth in circular motion.