Do We Really Need All That Pi?


We know that Pi, as an irrational number, has a decimal that is non-terminating and non-repeating.  So we usually round it to 3.14 or just use the “Pi” button on our calculator (which uses 7 decimal places) But when scientists and mathematicians use Pi, how far do they go?

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory answered that question for us:


Before reading the article, make a hypothesis.  How many decimals of Pi are “enough” for rocket scientists?  How accurate do they need to be when calculating orbits and trajectories and similar other measurements?

Read the article linked above.  Answer the following questions in a couple of paragraphs.  What value of Pi does NASA use for it’s most accurate/specific calculations?  Why have they decided that is “far enough” into the decimal to give an accurate answer?  What examples do they give to show why that is a good representation of Pi?  How does their representation of Pi compare to your hypothesis above?  Did you expect them to use more or less decimal places?  Are you surprised?  Why or why not?


1 thought on “Do We Really Need All That Pi?

  1. Abby

    I just wanna let all u teachers know…..

    YOU ARE THE BEST!! 👩🏾‍🏫👩🏾‍🏫👨🏾‍🏫👨🏾‍🏫🤟🏾🤘🏾🤟🏾🤘🏾🤟🏾🤘🏾🤟🏾


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