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The gravitational constant, G (big G), is a physical constant that doesn't change at all. The magnitude of gravitational acceleration, g (little g), has no effect on G.

Little g is used as an approximation for near-surface gravity of a planet (or other large mass). The reason it is used is because the formula for universal gravity and Newton's second law:

  • F = G (mplanet*mobject)/(r3) -- r is the distance between the centers of mass
  • F = mobject*aobject
yields (when set equal and dividing out the mass of the object):
  • aobject = G (mplanet)/r3
As you can see, the acceleration due to gravity won't change much for distances near the planet's surface.

We call the above magnitude, g. Each planet has its own g and Earth's is about 9.8 m/s2.

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Q: What effect of gravitational acceleration on Gravitational constant G?
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How do mass and distance effect gravitational force?

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