The Student Room Group

terminal velocity

hi! had a question about the terminal velocity of a parachuter - i understand that once the parachute opens, cross-sectional area increases and so the drag force increases and they decelerate to a new, lower terminal velocity - but if terminal velocity occurs when drag = weight then i don't get how this can be the case as the weight hasn't changed?
Reply 1
Original post by apolaroidofus
hi! had a question about the terminal velocity of a parachuter - i understand that once the parachute opens, cross-sectional area increases and so the drag force increases and they decelerate to a new, lower terminal velocity - but if terminal velocity occurs when drag = weight then i don't get how this can be the case as the weight hasn't changed?


i'm assuming you're gcse - i think its because when the surface area increases, the air resistance increases so the parachuter decelerates. But because the parachuter is now travelling at a slower velocity, air resistance decreases, thus the parachuter has a smaller deceleration and it gets smaller until a constant velocity is reached when air resistance and weight are equal and opposite and there is no resultant force
Original post by alexiia
i'm assuming you're gcse - i think its because when the surface area increases, the air resistance increases so the parachuter decelerates. But because the parachuter is now travelling at a slower velocity, air resistance decreases, thus the parachuter has a smaller deceleration and it gets smaller until a constant velocity is reached when air resistance and weight are equal and opposite and there is no resultant force

a level actually haha, but that makes sense thanks!
Reply 3
Original post by apolaroidofus
a level actually haha, but that makes sense thanks!

i'm so sorry! I said that as I only have a gcse level of knowledge on it
Original post by alexiia
i'm so sorry! I said that as I only have a gcse level of knowledge on it


hahah no that's ok!! we don't need to know it in any more detail than gcse on my spec, i just hadn't explained it properly in the notes i was looking through just now and what you said explained it perfectly :smile:

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