1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Skydiver accelerates towards the ground at at 9.81ms ^-2

  1. Nov 11, 2009 #1

    A skydiver accelerates towards the ground at at 9.81ms ^-2. At the instant that je leaves the aeroplane.
    A) The skydiver opens his parachute. Explain why he reaches a terminal velocity shortly afterwards.

    If you could help with that question be very greatful
    Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2009 #2
    Re: Skydiver

    terminal velocity occurs when your upward forces (due to air friction and dependant on your speed and surface area) equal your downward accelerative forces (due to gravity)
    as your speed or surface area increase, so do your upward (decelerative) forces
    opening a 'chute increases air resistance and thus upward force, and thus equalising the upward and downward forces sooner than if you were falling without a 'chute

    in a nutshell, terminal velocity for a parachute+man is much lower than terminal velocity for a man without parachute, hence you reach that speed sooner (you could even already be at the 'chute+man terminal velocity when your 'chute opens)
  4. Nov 11, 2009 #3
    Re: Skydiver

    High velocity air drag is turbulent drag (high Reynolds number) so the upward drag force is proportional to the square of velocity, and determines the terminal velocity (when upward and downward forces are equal). See
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_(physics [Broken])
    When a skydiver spreads his/her arms out, the drag increases and the terminal velocity decreases.
    Bob S
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook