Science & Technology

How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need? NASA Answers

Pi Number Chalkboard
Immediately is March 14, as in 3.14, which is why it’s Pi Day. It’s a good time to take a look at this query from a fan on Fb who questioned what number of decimals of the mathematical fixed pi (π) NASAJPL scientists and engineers use when making calculations:

Does JPL solely use 3.14 for its pi calculations? Or do you utilize extra decimals like say: 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360

Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA/JPL posed this query to the director and chief engineer for NASA’s Daybreak mission, Marc Rayman. Right here’s what he mentioned:

Thanks to your query! This isn’t the primary time I’ve heard a query like this. Actually, it was posed a few years in the past by a sixth-grade science and area fanatic who was later lucky sufficient to earn a doctorate in physics and change into concerned in area exploration. His identify was Marc Rayman.

To start out, let me reply your query straight. For JPL’s highest accuracy calculations, that are for interplanetary navigation, we use 3.141592653589793. Let’s have a look at this a bit extra intently to grasp why we don’t use extra decimal locations. I believe we are able to even see that there aren’t any bodily real looking calculations scientists ever carry out for which it’s obligatory to incorporate almost as many decimal factors as you current. Contemplate these examples:

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