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Parachutes effect on freefall

  1. Sep 9, 2009 #1
    How is it that airflow affects the freefall of a parachute?

    Obviously the larger the surface area of a parchute the slower the terminal velocity but how does the air interefere with a parachute or does it have no affect?

    :eek::confused::eek:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2009 #2

    kuruman

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    Think of it this way. The air is sitting there minding its own business when this parachute comes by, traps it and accelerates it down. In other words the canopy exerts force on the trapped air. By Newton's third Law (to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction), the air would exert an equal an upward force on the canopy which slows the parachute down.
     
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