How Does a Parachute Work?


Quick Answer

Parachutes work by increasing air resistance, which slows down the effects of gravity. Air is a gas, and though it is invisible, the molecules in the gas can still be used to help slow down a skydiver, much like water slows down a person who does a belly flop in water. Therefore, the air expands the parachute, providing resistance as the person falls.

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How Does a Parachute Work?
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Full Answer

When skydiving, people fall at about 125 miles per hour. The body's size already provides natural air resistance, which is why a person's speed does not keep increasing past this point. A parachute is a folded-up piece of lightweight fabric that is attached to the person by strings. When the person releases the parachute, it unfolds, creating a much larger area for air resistance than a person alone has.

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