# How to Calculate Terminal Velocity

Terminal velocity is the maximum constant speed attained by a free-falling object when the force of gravity pulling it downward is equal to the air resistance acting against it. Simply put, it’s the point at which an object can no longer accelerate due to opposing forces. Understanding terminal velocity is essential in various fields such as physics, engineering, and even sports like skydiving. In this article, we will discuss how to calculate terminal velocity step by step.

**Step 1: Understand the Forces Involved**

When an object falls, two primary forces affect its motion: gravity (or weight), pulling it downward, and air resistance (also known as drag), acting against it. As the object accelerates due to gravity, air resistance increases until both forces balance each other out and result in a constant velocity, known as terminal velocity.

**Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with Essential Equations**

To calculate terminal velocity, you need two equations:

**1. The equation for force due to gravity:**

F_gravity = mg

where F_gravity stands for gravitational force, m is mass, and g represents gravitational acceleration (approximately 9.81 m/s²).

**2. The equation for drag force (air resistance):**

F_drag = 1/2 * ρ * v^2 * C_d * A

where F_drag represents the drag force, ρ (rho) is the density of air (roughly 1.225 kg/m³),

v refers to the object’s velocity, C_d denotes the object’s drag coefficient depending on its shape and surface, and A is the frontal area of the object.

**Step 3: Set Gravitational Force Equal to Drag Force**

To calculate terminal velocity, you must determine when both forces become equal since they work against each other:

mg = 1/2 * ρ * v^2 * C_d * A

**Step 4: Solve for Terminal Velocity (v)**

Begin by isolating the “v” term in the equation:

v^2 = (2mg) / (ρ * C_d * A)

Now, take the square root of both sides of the equation to solve for terminal velocity:

v = √((2mg) / (ρ * C_d * A))

**Step 5: Plug in Values**

Now that you have the formula to calculate terminal velocity, you’ll need to gather data for m (mass), g (gravity), ρ (air density), C_d (drag coefficient), and A (frontal area). With these values plugged in, solve for “v” and determine the terminal velocity of the object.

**Conclusion:**

Understanding and being able to calculate terminal velocity is essential when examining the motion of free-falling objects. By following these steps and gathering the required data, you can predict an object’s maximum constant speed as it falls through the air. Whether for educational purposes or practical applications, this knowledge can be incredibly beneficial across many disciplines.