## What Causes Skydivers to Achieve Terminal Velocity?

When a skydiver jumps from a plane, they experience a sensation of freefall as they accelerate towards the ground. However, after a few seconds, their speed reaches a constant value, known as terminal velocity. This is the maximum speed that a body can reach when falling through a fluid, such as air.

Terminal velocity is determined by a number of factors, including the mass of the body, the density of the fluid, and the shape of the body. In the case of skydivers, their mass is determined by their weight, which is the force of gravity acting on their body. The density of the air is determined by the temperature and pressure of the air. The shape of the body is determined by the skydiver’s position and the way they hold their body.

The relationship between these factors can be expressed by the following equation:

v = √(2mg/ρACd)


v is the terminal velocity
m is the mass of the body
g is the acceleration due to gravity
ρ is the density of the fluid
A is the cross-sectional area of the body
Cd is the drag coefficient

The drag coefficient is a measure of how much drag a body experiences when moving through a fluid. It depends on the shape of the body and the surface texture. For a skydiver, the drag coefficient is typically around 1.

## How Skydivers Achieve Terminal Velocity

Skydivers achieve terminal velocity by increasing their drag. They do this by spreading out their arms and legs, which increases their cross-sectional area. They also arch their backs, which reduces their drag coefficient.

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Once a skydiver reaches terminal velocity, they will continue to fall at a constant speed until they reach the ground. However, the skydiver can control their speed by changing their body position. By pulling in their arms and legs, they can increase their speed. By arching their back, they can decrease their speed.

## The Dangers of Terminal Velocity

Terminal velocity can be dangerous for skydivers if they do not reach it quickly enough. If a skydiver falls for too long at a high speed, they can experience a phenomenon known as “air sickness.” Air sickness is caused by the rapid movement of air past the body, which can lead to nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

Skydivers can also experience injuries if they hit the ground at a high speed. The impact of landing can cause fractures, sprains, and other injuries.

## How to Avoid the Dangers of Terminal Velocity

Skydivers can avoid the dangers of terminal velocity by reaching it quickly and safely. They can do this by:

Jumping from a high altitude
Spreading out their arms and legs
Arching their backs
Using a drogue chute

A drogue chute is a small parachute that is deployed before the main parachute. It helps to slow down the skydiver and reach terminal velocity more quickly.

## Conclusion

Terminal velocity is a natural phenomenon that occurs when a body falls through a fluid. Skydivers achieve terminal velocity by increasing their drag. They can do this by spreading out their arms and legs, arching their backs, and using a drogue chute. Reaching terminal velocity quickly and safely is important to avoid the dangers of air sickness and injuries.

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