Q:

How fast is terminal velocity?

A:

Quick Answer

The terminal velocity of a skydiver in freefall is approximately 50 to 60 miles per second or roughly 125 to 135 mph. While the term has been popularized by skydiving enthusiasts, however, the concept of terminal velocity is applicable to the study of physics in general.

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Full Answer

Terminal velocity refers to the fact that, although an object falling on earth is subject to the pull of gravity, there will come a point where the opposite drag on the object from the wind will balance out the force of gravity and no further acceleration will be achieved. The shape of the object affects the dragging effect of the wind and this is why skydivers can change the speed of their fall by changing the shape of their bodies as they fall. When the parachute opens, the terminal velocity is reduced to about 12 mph - or a safe speed to land.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the terminal velocity for a human?

    A:

    The terminal velocity of a free-falling human depends on the mass and density of the person. In general, the heavier the body, the longer it can accelerate before drag holds it at a constant speed. For a typical human, terminal velocity ranges between 53 and 56 meters per second.

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  • Q:

    What is the speed of terminal velocity?

    A:

    Terminal velocity is the maximum velocity an object reaches when it is falling under the force of gravity or another constant driving force. The object is subject to a resistance that increases as the velocity increases, and when the resistance equals the driving force, terminal velocity occurs.

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  • Q:

    What is the terminal velocity of a bullet?

    A:

    Terminal velocities of bullets vary by caliber, but can reach 300 to 700 feet per second. For example, a .30 caliber bullet's terminal velocity is 300 feet per second. If the bullet is shot at an angle and keeps its arc, it is more likely to reach terminal velocity.

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  • Q:

    How does air resistance affect the acceleration of falling objects?

    A:

    Air resistance, also called drag, acts upon a falling body by slowing the body down to the point where it stops accelerating, and it falls at a constant speed, known as the terminal velocity of a falling object. Air resistance depends on the cross-sectional area of the object, which is why the effect of air resistance on a large flat-surfaced object is much greater than on a small, stream-lined object.

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