This glossary of aerospace engineering terms pertains specifically to aerospace engineering, its sub-disciplines, and related fields including aviation and aeronautics. For a broad overview of engineering, see glossary of engineering.




, where V is volume and p is pressure. The choice to define compressibility as the opposite of the fraction makes compressibility positive in the (usual) case that an increase in pressure induces a reduction in volume. t is also known as reciprocal of bulk modulus(k) of elasticity of a fluid.


is the drag force, which is by definition the force component in the direction of the flow velocity,
is the mass density of the fluid,[59]
is the flow velocity relative to the object,
is the reference area, and
is the drag coefficient – a dimensionless coefficient related to the object's geometry and taking into account both skin friction and form drag. In general, depends on the Reynolds number.


Given a domain and a once-weakly differentiable vector field which represents a fluid flow, such as a solution to the Navier-Stokes equations, its enstrophy is given by:[65]
Where . This is quantity is the same as the squared seminorm of the solution in the Sobolev space ::::.
In the case that the flow is incompressible, or equivalently that , the enstrophy can be described as the integral of the square of the vorticity ,[66]
or, in terms of the flow velocity,
In the context of the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations, enstrophy appears in the following useful result[18]
The quantity in parentheses on the left is the energy in the flow, so the result says that energy declines proportional to the kinematic viscosity times the enstrophy.




The equation has the property that, if u and its first time derivative are arbitrarily specified initial data on the line t = 0 (with sufficient smoothness properties), then there exists a solution for all time t.




  1. The orbit of a planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci.
  2. A line segment joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time.
  3. The square of a planet's orbital period is proportional to the cube of the length of the semi-major axis of its orbit.
The elliptical orbits of planets were indicated by calculations of the orbit of Mars. From this, Kepler inferred that other bodies in the Solar System, including those farther away from the Sun, also have elliptical orbits. The second law helps to establish that when a planet is closer to the Sun, it travels faster. The third law expresses that the farther a planet is from the Sun, the slower its orbital speed, and vice versa.
Isaac Newton showed in 1687 that relationships like Kepler's would apply in the Solar System as a consequence of his own laws of motion and law of universal gravitation.
Kuethe and Schetzer state the Kutta condition as follows:[119]: § 4.11 
A body with a sharp trailing edge which is moving through a fluid will create about itself a circulation of sufficient strength to hold the rear stagnation point at the trailing edge.
In fluid flow around a body with a sharp corner, the Kutta condition refers to the flow pattern in which fluid approaches the corner from above and below, meets at the corner, and then flows away from the body. None of the fluid flows around the sharp corner.
The Kutta condition is significant when using the Kutta–Joukowski theorem to calculate the lift created by an airfoil with a sharp trailing edge. The value of circulation of the flow around the airfoil must be that value that would cause the Kutta condition to exist.


Lagrangian mechanics defines a mechanical system to be a pair of a configuration space and a smooth function called Lagrangian. By convention, where and are the kinetic and potential energy of the system, respectively. Here and is the velocity vector at is tangential to (For those familiar with tangent bundles, and
Given the time instants and Lagrangian mechanics postulates that a smooth path describes the time evolution of the given system if and only if is a stationary point of the action functional
If is an open subset of and are finite, then the smooth path is a stationary point of if all its directional derivatives at vanish, i.e., for every smooth
The function on the right-hand side is called perturbation or virtual displacement. The directional derivative on the left is known as variation in physics and Gateaux derivative in mathematics.
Lagrangian mechanics has been extended to allow for non-conservative forces.


In the International System of Units (SI), the unit of measurement of momentum is the kilogram metre per second (kg⋅m/s), which is equivalent to the newton-second.


The Navier–Stokes equations mathematically express conservation of momentum and conservation of mass for Newtonian fluids. They are sometimes accompanied by an equation of state relating pressure, temperature and density.[152] They arise from applying Isaac Newton's second law to fluid motion, together with the assumption that the stress in the fluid is the sum of a diffusing viscous term (proportional to the gradient of velocity) and a pressure term—hence describing viscous flow. The difference between them and the closely related Euler equations is that Navier–Stokes equations take viscosity into account while the Euler equations model only inviscid flow. As a result, the Navier–Stokes are a parabolic equation and therefore have better analytic properties, at the expense of having less mathematical structure (e.g. they are never completely integrable).
A newton is defined as 1 kg⋅m/s2, which is the force which gives a mass of 1 kilogram an acceleration of 1 metre per second, per second.
This is a general physical law derived from empirical observations by what Isaac Newton called inductive reasoning.[156] It is a part of classical mechanics and was formulated in Newton's work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("the Principia"), first published on 5 July 1687. When Newton presented Book 1 of the unpublished text in April 1686 to the Royal Society, Robert Hooke made a claim that Newton had obtained the inverse square law from him.
In today's language, the law states that every point mass attracts every other point mass by a force acting along the line intersecting the two points. The force is proportional to the product of the two masses, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.[157]
The equation for universal gravitation thus takes the form:
where F is the gravitational force acting between two objects, m1 and m2 are the masses of the objects, r is the distance between the centers of their masses, and G is the gravitational constant.
Law 1. A body continues in its state of rest, or in uniform motion in a straight line, unless acted upon by a force.
Law 2. A body acted upon by a force moves in such a manner that the time rate of change of momentum equals the force.
Law 3. If two bodies exert forces on each other, these forces are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.
The three laws of motion were first stated by Isaac Newton in his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), first published in 1687.[159] Newton used them to explain and investigate the motion of many physical objects and systems, which laid the foundation for Newtonian mechanics.[160]



Define perpendicular axes , , and (which meet at origin ) so that the body lies in the plane, and the axis is perpendicular to the plane of the body. Let Ix, Iy and Iz be moments of inertia about axis x, y, z respectively. Then the perpendicular axis theorem states that[172]
This rule can be applied with the parallel axis theorem and the stretch rule to find polar moments of inertia for a variety of shapes.
If a planar object (or prism, by the stretch rule) has rotational symmetry such that and are equal,[173]
then the perpendicular axes theorem provides the useful relationship:


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Velocity is a physical vector quantity; both magnitude and direction are needed to define it. The scalar absolute value (magnitude) of velocity is called speed, being a coherent derived unit whose quantity is measured in the SI (metric system) as metres per second (m/s or m⋅s−1). For example, "5 metres per second" is a scalar, whereas "5 metres per second east" is a vector. If there is a change in speed, direction or both, then the object is said to be undergoing an acceleration.



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  1. ^ Geostationary orbit and Geosynchronous (equatorial) orbit are used somewhat interchangeably in sources.
  2. ^ "Newtonian constant of gravitation" is the name introduced for G by Boys (1894). Use of the term by T.E. Stern (1928) was misquoted as "Newton's constant of gravitation" in Pure Science Reviewed for Profound and Unsophisticated Students (1930), in what is apparently the first use of that term. Use of "Newton's constant" (without specifying "gravitation" or "gravity") is more recent, as "Newton's constant" was also used for the heat transfer coefficient in Newton's law of cooling, but has by now become quite common, e.g. Calmet et al, Quantum Black Holes (2013), p. 93; P. de Aquino, Beyond Standard Model Phenomenology at the LHC (2013), p. 3. The name "Cavendish gravitational constant", sometimes "Newton–Cavendish gravitational constant", appears to have been common in the 1970s to 1980s, especially in (translations from) Soviet-era Russian literature, e.g. Sagitov (1970 [1969]), Soviet Physics: Uspekhi 30 (1987), Issues 1–6, p. 342 [etc.]. "Cavendish constant" and "Cavendish gravitational constant" is also used in Charles W. Misner, Kip S. Thorne, John Archibald Wheeler, "Gravitation", (1973), 1126f. Colloquial use of "Big G", as opposed to "little g" for gravitational acceleration dates to the 1960s (R.W. Fairbridge, The encyclopedia of atmospheric sciences and astrogeology, 1967, p. 436; note use of "Big G's" vs. "little g's" as early as the 1940s of the Einstein tensor Gμν vs. the metric tensor gμν, Scientific, medical, and technical books published in the United States of America: a selected list of titles in print with annotations: supplement of books published 1945–1948, Committee on American Scientific and Technical Bibliography National Research Council, 1950, p. 26).
  3. ^ Cavendish determined the value of G indirectly, by reporting a value for the Earth's mass, or the average density of Earth, as 5.448 g⋅cm−3.
  4. ^ ISO 15919: Bhāratīya Antarikṣ Anusandhān Saṅgaṭhan Bhāratīya Antrikṣ Anusandhān Saṅgaṭhan
  5. ^ CNSA (China), ESA (most of Europe), ISRO, (India), JAXA (Japan), NASA (United States) and Roscosmos (Russia) are space agencies with full launch capabilities.
  1. ^ It was shown separately that separated spherically symmetrical masses attract and are attracted as if all their mass were concentrated at their centers.