Is Air Resistance A Force? 7 Facts You Should Know !

Air resistance acts on an object in the opposite direction of its(the object’s) movement through the air. Let us have a look  whether air resistance is a force or not.

Air resistance is a force. This is because it tries to resist the movement of a body by acting in the opposite direction to the direction of movement of that body through the air. Air resistance has both magnitude and direction and ability to alter the direction of a moving body. These features make it a force.

Let us go through questions like what type of force air resistance is,what is the reason that air resistance is considered a contact force,is air resistance a conservative force,is air resistance a drag force and more questions like these.

What type of force is air resistance?

Force is a vector quantity which possesses both magnitude and direction. Let us focus on what type of force air resistance is.

Air resistance is basically a resistive force by nature. Whether the air resistance force is a strong force or a weak force is decided by two key factors: the surface area of the moving body and the speed of the body with which it is moving.

If the body is moving at a faster rate and it has a large surface area then the value of air resistance is high and if the speed is low and surface area is small then the air resistance will be low.

Why is air resistance considered a contact force?

When two bodies are in contact with each other a force acts between the two bodies. Let us know why air resistance is considered as a contact force.

Air resistance is considered a contact force. The reason is air resistance can  act on a body or affect the body only when air molecules come into direct contact with the particles of that body and this is possible when the body is moving across the air. During the contact air molecules try to slow down the body.

Basically the air molecules directly hit the particles of that body during contact. If the surface area of the body is large the number of particles is also greater and a large number of air molecules can hit the body. This in turn decreases the speed of the body.

Is air resistance a conservative force?

A conservative force is a path independent in moving a particle from one point to another. Let us focus on whether air resistance is conservative or not.

Air resistance is not a conservative force,it is non conservative by nature. This is because it is a dissipative force which is similar to the non conservative forces. As a moving object progresses across the air medium,the air medium takes the energy away from the object and this energy will never be returned.

Besides, the work done by the air resistance force depends upon the path which means that it depends upon the starting point and stopping point of the object. As non conservative forces are path dependent hence air resistance is also non conservative.

Is air resistance a drag force?

According to fluid mechanics,the drag force is a force which tries to resist the flow of a fluid. Let us have a look if the air resistance force is a drag force.

Air resistance is a drag force. The air resistance should be the highest to act as a drag force and should be at an angle opposite to the direction of movement of the body. A drag force can be divided into two components: horizontal and vertical. Depending on the angle these two components can have two distinct values.

Depending on the angle one of the horizontal and the vertical components of the drag force has larger value than the other. Drag force acts on a body only when the body is moving through a fluid medium(in this case air medium).

Is air resistance a frictional force?

Frictional force is used to resist the relative motion of the solid surfaces,fluid layers and material elements. Let us know whether air resistance is a frictional force or not.

Air resistance is a frictional force. This is because air tries to oppose the motion of the moving object and it is known that friction has the similar property of opposing the motion of a body. Besides that air resistance acts in the opposite direction to the movement of the body which is also similar to friction.

Air resistance either decelerates or stops an accelerating body traveling through the air medium by acting in the opposite direction of their progress. Several physical properties like the shape of a body are also affected by the influence of the air resistance due to its frictional nature.

Frictional force image by Pieter Kuiper (CC BY 2.5)

Is air resistance a push or pull force?

If a push force is applied it moves away and if a pull force is applied then the object will move toward the force. Let us know whether air resistance is a push or a pull force.

Air resistance is a push force. This is because air is pushed against an object through the air either to stop it or to decelerate it. Air pushes the object to slow it down which in turn stops the body. During the fall of the object the gravitational acceleration also decreases due to the effect of air resistance.

To what extent this push force(air resistance) can make the object slower depends upon the surface area and speed of that object. The speed of a falling body can reach the terminal velocity when the acceleration is zero due to the effect of air resistance.

Conclusion

In this article the topic of air resistance is a force with 7 facts related to it has been discussed in a brief manner. Questions like the type of force of air resistance,whether it is a push or pull force have also been answered in it.

Read more about Direction Of Air Resistance.

Scroll to Top