We all know what parachutes are for. They are very to make as a science project. However the science behind a parachute is not as easy as you think. There are key factors that you have to consider. Experimenting may take a bit of patience if you intend to study them seriously.
They came in different sizes and designs. For a parachute to able to work in real life, actually takes accuracy and extra caution, after all lives are at risk.
Modern designs have come along way compared to their earlier forms. The very first modern parachute was invented in 1783 but there were also earlier forms. Several individuals have dared to take the leapt to test their designs. Some were successful but some lost their lives due to poor designs and setbacks.
Science behind the parachute
The earlier forms were made of fabric and wooden struts. Most of these were conical shaped. At that time the parachute was only intended for entertainment. It was later on conceived as an escape device two years after the modern parachute was invented.
It was used to get off a hot air balloon. Later developments lead to the use of silk, vented parachute and knapsack parachutes. After successful jumps it was then used in the military during World War I and II.
Nowadays it is more popularly used for extreme sports such as skydiving. The main idea behind it is that the parachute slows down a falling object. It does this by creating a drag or air resistance. When the parachute canopy is deployed the air molecules move farther out creating drag. The more drag that is created the slower the object falls down.
The drag or air resistance depends on the surface area of the object. Parachute canopies have large surface area which creates enough drag for its passenger. Shapes also have an effect on the efficiency of the parachute. Modern designs have rectangular or tapered shapes.
Tapered parachutes are in parachute sports. They have more fabric cells to enable more control and speed. Rectangular ones on the other hand are used for recreation. The safer and more frequently used in training programs for students.
Parachutes must also be packed correctly for it to deploy properly. If the canopy deploys too quickly it may rip and/or hurt the skydiver. The canopy may get tangled with the lines or does not inflate. The lines may also break. Due to this sliders were added in Ram air parachutes to slow down the opening of the canopy.
Modern designs also have a rip cord and zero porosity technology. The ripcord enables the parachute to deploy correctly and the zero porosity prevents air from passing through the nylon fabric.
There are variations to the modern design because of parachute sports. BASE jumpers use a different design when compared to paragliders. Different designs play a role in the efficiency of the parachute.
All in all the efficiency of the parachute will depend in the materials, design and how it is packed. Reserve parachutes are also available when the main canopy fails. Let's just hope that it will deploy correctly this time.
Parachutes are packed by their own skydivers and reserves are packed by riggers. The science behind parachute is important to make sure that you are informed on what is supposed to happen.