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Department of Physics

COOL PHYSICS

Measuring the fall rate of parachutists

The acceleration or deceleration sustained by a parachute-passenger system is measured with solid state accelerometers. These devices are based on small piezoelectric chips that bend under acceleration and send varying current when a voltage is applied at their terminals. Typically, there is one accelerometer per axis of motion (i.e. one for the X-, Y- and Z- axes). The data is then piped to a data acquisition system. Such a measurement is commonly performed by Dr. Potvin and his SLU-physics undergraduate assistants. For more information on their parachute studies click here. More info on the data acquisition system can be found here and here.

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