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'Felix's Parachute Jump' printed from http://nrich.maths.org/

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On October 14th 2012, Felix Baumgartner made a world record breaking parachute jump from 39,045 metres. Here are some questions his jump provoked for us:
  • As Felix stepped from the capsule at a height of 39km, approximately what proportion of the Earth's surface could he see?
  • Felix landed 9 minutes and 3 seconds after jumping. How much quicker would an object in freefall all the way down (ie without a parachute) land?
  • Can you estimate the maximum speed Felix reached before opening his parachute after 4 minutes and 19 seconds of freefall?
To answer these questions, you will need to make certain modelling assumptions and you will need to do some research. Send us your best estimates together with explanations of the mathematical methods you used and the assumptions you made. If you think of any other interesting questions and manage to answer them, share those with us too!