The Art of Falling
After jumping out of a plane that is flying 10,000 ft above the surface of the Earth, this skydiver reached up to 120 mph before deploying their parachute. Within a matter of seconds the increased surface area allows the pair’s velocity to be slowed to a safe velocity for landing. By using Newton’s 2nd law, you can easily calculate what speed this pair landed at.
New You Can Use
- Since the early 1100s, people have been using parachutes to skydive. Even though they didn’t know it, they were using the most basic principles of physics. By using a parachute the effective surface area of the falling body is increased allowing for more air to be “caught”.
- Effectively designed parachutes will expose a skydiver to 3-4Gs of negative acceleration when the chute is deployed. This causes the skydiver’s velocity to go from 120 mph to roughly 18 mph in a matter of seconds. With the forces balanced, the skydiver will be able to safely land.
Show What You Know
Using the information provided above, answer the following questions.
- When the skydiver is falling at a constant velocity after the parachute is open, what is their acceleration?
- Explain why it is not advised to use a parachute that is a big as possible, assuming you could safely deploy it?
- At what point in the skydiving experience is the acceleration due to gravity equal to zero?