1. How does Gravity affect the speed of a
parachute falling to the ground?
2 Does the type of material to make the
parachute affect the flight pattern?
3. Does wind affect the flight pattern?
4. Does the size of the parachute affect the
speed of it falling to the ground?
1. Well, here's one way to think about it:
what would a parachute do if there was no
gravity? Well, with no gravity to pull it down,
it wouldn't fall at all! If we then "turn on"
some weak gravity, it makes sense that the
parachute would start falling very slowly. As
we make gravity stronger, the parachute will
The speed at which the parachute falls is
called its terminal velocity; it turns out that
if you know enough information about the
parachute (its size and shape, weight, how air
flows around it,...), you can come up with a
formula for the terminal velocity in terms of
the strength of gravity.
2. Well, yes and no: what matters is the
size, shape, and weight of the parachute. So if
you have two parachutes with the same size and
shape but made of different materials, one
heavier than the other, the heavier parachute
will fall faster. The way the parachute glides
(maybe this is what you meant by "flight
pattern") depends much more on the shape of the
parachute than the material it's made of (as
long as the material is strong enough not to
tear, of course!).
3. A steady wind will simply make a parachute
move with the wind; otherwise, the flight of the
parachute will remain more or less the same.
However, I would guess that a gusty, erratic
wind can make a parachute unstable and maybe
even cause it to tear!
4. Yes, definitely! Imagine a parachute that
was microscopically small - then it would hardly
do anything, and anyone attached to it would
fall straight to the ground as if they weren't
wearing a parachute at all! But if a parachute
is very large, it catches a lot of air and slows
you down a lot more. So a bigger parachute
definitely falls slower than a smaller one.
Hope these help! Happy holidays!
1. Gravity applies the downward force.
2. I don't know - the equation is the force
required for the parachute to push the air out
of the was as it descends, against the force of
gravity. It really shouldn't matter what the
material is so long as it doesn't tear.
3. Yes, the force of the air is relative to
the air's motion. A parachute will drift in the
direction of the wind, and at the same speed of
4. The larger the area of the parachute, the
more air needs to be pushed out of the way, and
so the slower it descends.
1. Gravity will always pull on a parachute
with the same force, and will cause it to
accelerate towards the Earth at 10 metres per
second per second. (10 metres per second
2. Material choice doesn't necessarily change
the flight pattern, but the shape of a parachute
has a very large influence. For example,
circular parachutes are difficult to control,
whereas rectangular, ram-air chutes can be
controlled easily and are generally quite
3. Wind certainly affects the flight pattern.
The wind pushes on the parachute, causing it to
be moved in the direction of the wind with
whatever speed it is pushing. This needs to be
considered when setting a course.
4. The size of the parachute affects the
speed of falling because a larger parachute
allows it to displace more air, causing it to
fall more slowly. If you consider the extreme
example of no parachute, an object will fall
quickly. However, as the parachute gets larger,
it is able to push against--or displace--more
air, which will slow down a falling object.
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