The molar weight of carbon dioxide (CO₂) is calculated by adding the atomic masses of its constituent atoms:
 Carbon (C) has an atomic mass of approximately 12.01 g/mol.
 Oxygen (O) has an atomic mass of approximately 16.00 g/mol.
Since CO₂ contains one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms, the molar mass is:
[ \text{Molar mass of CO₂} = 12.01 , \text{g/mol} + 2 \times 16.00 , \text{g/mol} = 44.01 , \text{g/mol} ]
So, the molar weight of CO₂ is 44.01 g/mol.
what is the difference in mass between a cubic cm of Earth's atmosphere and Mars'
To calculate the difference in mass between a cubic centimeter of Earth's atmosphere and Mars' atmosphere, we need the density of air for each planet.
Earth's Atmosphere
At sea level and at 15°C (standard temperature), the density of Earth's atmosphere is approximately: [ \text{Density of Earth's atmosphere} \approx 1.225 , \text{g/cm}^3 ]
Mars' Atmosphere
Mars' atmosphere is much thinner and mostly composed of carbon dioxide (CO₂). At the surface, under average conditions, the density of Mars' atmosphere is approximately: [ \text{Density of Mars' atmosphere} \approx 0.020 , \text{g/cm}^3 ]
Difference in Mass
To find the difference in mass between a cubic centimeter of air on Earth and Mars, we simply subtract the density of Mars' atmosphere from that of Earth's atmosphere: [ \text{Difference} = 1.225 , \text{g/cm}^3  0.020 , \text{g/cm}^3 = 1.205 , \text{g/cm}^3 ]
Thus, a cubic centimeter of Earth's atmosphere is approximately 1.205 g heavier than a cubic centimeter of Mars' atmosphere.
what is the difference in terms of percentage?
To calculate the percentage difference in mass between a cubic centimeter of Earth's atmosphere and Mars' atmosphere, we use the following formula:
[ \text{Percentage Difference} = \left( \frac{\text{Difference in mass}}{\text{Density of Earth's atmosphere}} \right) \times 100 ]
Substituting the values:
[ \text{Percentage Difference} = \left( \frac{1.205 , \text{g/cm}^3}{1.225 , \text{g/cm}^3} \right) \times 100 ]
[ \text{Percentage Difference} \approx 98.37% ]
So, Mars' atmosphere is about 98.37% less dense than Earth's atmosphere in terms of mass per cubic centimeter.
The drag force (F_D) experienced by an object moving through a fluid (such as the atmosphere) is given by the drag equation:
[ F_D = \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho v^2 A ]
Where:
 (F_D) is the drag force,
 (C_D) is the drag coefficient,
 (\rho) is the air density,
 (v) is the velocity of the object,
 (A) is the crosssectional area of the object.
To feel the same drag force on Mars as on Earth, assuming the drag coefficient and crosssectional area remain constant, we can equate the drag forces on both planets:
[ \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho_\text{Earth} v_\text{Earth}^2 A = \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho_\text{Mars} v_\text{Mars}^2 A ]
Canceling out common terms and solving for (v_\text{Mars}):
[ \rho_\text{Earth} v_\text{Earth}^2 = \rho_\text{Mars} v_\text{Mars}^2 ]
[ v_\text{Mars} = v_\text{Earth} \sqrt{\frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}}} ]
Since the density of Earth's atmosphere is about 1.225 g/cm³ and Mars' atmosphere is about 0.020 g/cm³, the ratio of the densities is:
[ \frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}} \approx \frac{1.225}{0.020} = 61.25 ]
Now taking the square root:
[ v_\text{Mars} = v_\text{Earth} \times \sqrt{61.25} \approx v_\text{Earth} \times 7.83 ]
Thus, an object would need to travel approximately 7.83 times faster on Mars than on Earth to experience the same drag force.
You're absolutely right that the relationship involves the square of velocity in the drag equation. However, I think there's been a slight mixup in the context.
If the velocity is the same on both Earth and Mars, then the drag force depends primarily on the density of the atmosphere, since the drag force is proportional to the product of the air density and the square of velocity. Let’s walk through the idea in this context:
If the object is traveling at the same speed on both planets, and you want to understand how much faster it would need to go on Mars to feel the same drag as it does on Earth, the velocity would need to be adjusted in proportion to the difference in density of the atmospheres.
So instead of needing to travel 163 times faster, the correct adjustment factor is based on the square root of the density ratio, because the drag force scales with (v^2).
In your case, since the density ratio between Earth and Mars is about 61.25, the velocity adjustment would be:
[ v_\text{Mars} = v_\text{Earth} \times \sqrt{\frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}}} = v_\text{Earth} \times \sqrt{61.25} \approx v_\text{Earth} \times 7.83 ]
Therefore, an object would need to travel approximately 7.83 times faster on Mars to experience the same drag as it would on Earth at the same velocity.
The factor 163 you mentioned seems to come from an overestimation. Since drag force depends on the square of velocity, you'd use the square root of the ratio between Earth's and Mars' atmospheric densities, not the full ratio itself.
Exactly! In the case of a parachute, you're absolutely right. The drag force acting on the parachute is a function of the speed of the object, the area of the parachute's inlet (its projected area), and the air density. Let’s break this down further:
Drag Force on a Parachute
The drag force ( F_D ) on a parachute is given by:
[ F_D = \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho v^2 A ]
Where:
 ( F_D ) is the drag force,
 ( C_D ) is the drag coefficient (which depends on the shape of the parachute and the airflow around it),
 ( \rho ) is the air density,
 ( v ) is the velocity of the object,
 ( A ) is the crosssectional area of the parachute (or inlet area).
Relationship between Speed, Inlet Area, and Density
For a parachute, the amount of air being "captured" or displaced as it falls is directly related to:
 The speed (v): As the parachute falls faster, it "scoops" more air into its surface, increasing the drag force.
 The area of the inlet (A): A larger parachute catches more air and thus creates more drag.
 The density of the air ((\rho)): Denser air increases the amount of air particles impacting the parachute, which increases the drag.
In the context of Mars vs. Earth:
 Since Mars’ atmosphere is much thinner (about 0.6% of Earth’s density), the parachute will encounter far fewer air molecules for the same size and speed.
 To compensate for this lack of air density, a parachute on Mars either needs to:
 Be larger to catch more air (increase area ( A )),
 The object needs to fall at a much higher speed (increase velocity ( v )), or
 A combination of both (larger parachute and higher speed).
Airflow and Drag on Mars
Given that the density of Mars' atmosphere is much lower, a parachute would generate much less drag for the same area and speed compared to Earth. Thus, to achieve a similar level of deceleration, the parachute system would have to be either:
 1213 times larger, or
 The object would have to be 1213 times faster (as discussed in the previous velocity adjustment).
So the relationship you mention between speed, inlet area, and density holds, and in the case of Mars, compensating for the thin atmosphere either requires increased speed or a larger parachute surface to capture enough air for effective deceleration.
This is not taking into account the increased weight of each molecule of atmosphere which actually adjusts the value to around 7.83 times the speed for similar drag.
So the Radius of the Parachute would be proportional to the Difference in Speed, not the Area?
You're absolutely right! When comparing the drag forces on Mars and Earth at the same velocity, the velocity should cancel out from the equation. Let's go through this stepbystep to clarify why you only need to compensate for the difference in air density with either area or speed when keeping other factors constant.
Drag Equation Comparison (Same Velocity):
For both Earth and Mars, the drag force is given by:
[ F_D = \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho v^2 A ]
Where:
 (C_D) is the drag coefficient (same for both),
 (\rho) is the air density,
 (v) is the velocity,
 (A) is the crosssectional area (e.g., the parachute inlet area).
Canceling Velocity (Constant Speed):
If we're comparing Mars and Earth for the same velocity (v), we can cancel (v^2) out of the equation because it’s the same in both environments. The comparison now only depends on air density and area:
[ \frac{F_{D,\text{Mars}}}{F_{D,\text{Earth}}} = \frac{\rho_\text{Mars} A_\text{Mars}}{\rho_\text{Earth} A_\text{Earth}} ]
This means the ratio of drag forces between Mars and Earth is simply the product of the density and area.
For Equal Drag Force:
To achieve the same drag force on Mars as on Earth, we can adjust either the parachute's crosssectional area or the speed of descent (velocity). If the velocity is held constant, then the ratio of areas must compensate for the density difference.
Let’s solve for area assuming the same drag force:
[ F_{D,\text{Mars}} = F_{D,\text{Earth}} ]
So,
[ \rho_\text{Mars} A_\text{Mars} = \rho_\text{Earth} A_\text{Earth} ]
Rearranging to find the relationship between areas:
[ A_\text{Mars} = A_\text{Earth} \times \frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}} ]
Since (\rho_\text{Mars}) is about 0.6% of Earth's atmospheric density, the ratio of densities is:
[ \frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}} \approx \frac{1}{0.006} = 166.67 ]
Conclusion:

Area: If the velocity is the same, then the parachute on Mars would need to be about 167 times larger than it would be on Earth to generate the same drag force.

Velocity: If we kept the parachute area the same, the velocity would need to be approximately 13 times faster to generate the same drag, due to the square root relationship between velocity and drag force.
In essence, you can cancel out velocity if it's the same, and in that case, it's purely a matter of adjusting the parachute's size (area) by a factor of about 167 to compensate for Mars' thinner atmosphere.
When we're calculating drag do we use air density in pa or mass of air displaced?
When calculating drag, we use air density in terms of mass per unit volume, typically expressed in kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m³) or grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm³), rather than pressure (Pa, or Pascals).
Why Air Density and Not Pressure?
The drag equation is based on the mass of air interacting with the object as it moves through the fluid (air, in this case). Specifically, the air density ( \rho ) represents the mass of air per unit volume, which directly affects the drag force. Here's the drag equation again:
[ F_D = \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho v^2 A ]
Where:
 ( F_D ) is the drag force,
 ( C_D ) is the drag coefficient,
 ( \rho ) is the air density (mass per unit volume),
 ( v ) is the velocity,
 ( A ) is the crosssectional area of the object.
In this equation:
 Air density ( \rho ) is crucial because it tells us how much mass of air is displaced by the object as it moves. The greater the air density, the more mass is displaced, and thus the greater the drag force.
Why Not Pressure?
While air pressure (measured in Pascals, Pa) is related to air density through the ideal gas law, it is not directly used in the drag equation. Pressure is a measure of force per unit area exerted by the air molecules on a surface, but drag is related to the mass of the air displaced by the moving object, which is why we focus on air density.
Ideal Gas Law Link:
The relationship between air density ( \rho ) and air pressure ( P ) is given by the ideal gas law:
[ P = \rho R T ]
Where:
 ( P ) is the pressure,
 ( \rho ) is the air density,
 ( R ) is the specific gas constant for air,
 ( T ) is the temperature.
So, while pressure and density are related, the mass of air displaced (which depends on density) is what directly influences drag. This is why the drag equation uses air density (in kg/m³) rather than pressure.
Summary:
 Air density (mass per unit volume, kg/m³ or g/cm³) is used when calculating drag, not pressure.
 Air density directly affects how much air mass is displaced by the object, which is the key factor in determining drag force.
So the mass of the atmosphere at surface level on Earth is only 61.25 times that of Mars
Yes, you're right! When considering the mass of the atmosphere at surface level on Earth compared to Mars, we are essentially comparing the air densities at those two locations, which gives us the relationship between how much mass of air is displaced by an object at the surface.
Let’s break this down:
Earth vs. Mars: Surface Level Air Densities
 Earth's air density at sea level is approximately 1.225 kg/m³ (this varies slightly with temperature and pressure).
 Mars' air density at surface level is approximately 0.020 kg/m³ (20 grams per cubic meter).
Ratio of Atmospheric Densities:
To find how much more massive Earth's atmosphere is compared to Mars' at surface level, you take the ratio of the air densities:
[ \frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}} = \frac{1.225}{0.020} = 61.25 ]
Conclusion:
 The mass of the atmosphere at surface level on Earth is about 61.25 times greater than the mass of the atmosphere at surface level on Mars.
 This means that for every cubic meter of air displaced by an object on Earth, it displaces 61.25 times as much mass as the same object would on Mars.
This aligns with your conclusion that the mass of Earth's atmosphere at surface level is about 61.25 times that of Mars!
So between Earth and Mars, how much faster does an object need to be travelling to encounter the same drag?
Great question! Let's go through the steps carefully to calculate how much faster an object needs to travel on Mars to experience the same drag force as it would on Earth, using the drag equation and assuming we've canceled out the velocity between the two cases.
Drag Equation:
The drag force (F_D) is given by:
[ F_D = \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho v^2 A ]
Where:
 ( F_D ) is the drag force,
 ( C_D ) is the drag coefficient (assumed to be the same on Earth and Mars for comparison),
 ( \rho ) is the air density,
 ( v ) is the velocity,
 ( A ) is the crosssectional area.
Comparing Mars and Earth (Same Drag Force):
Since we want to experience the same drag force on both planets, and assuming the parachute or object shape and area are the same, we can set the drag forces equal and solve for the velocity on Mars:
[ F_{D,\text{Earth}} = F_{D,\text{Mars}} ]
Expanding the drag equation for each planet:
[ \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho_\text{Earth} v_\text{Earth}^2 A = \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho_\text{Mars} v_\text{Mars}^2 A ]
Since (C_D), (A), and the (\frac{1}{2}) factor are the same, we can cancel them out:
[ \rho_\text{Earth} v_\text{Earth}^2 = \rho_\text{Mars} v_\text{Mars}^2 ]
Solving for ( v_\text{Mars} ):
We want to find the velocity required on Mars, so we solve for (v_\text{Mars}):
[ v_\text{Mars}^2 = v_\text{Earth}^2 \frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}} ]
Taking the square root of both sides:
[ v_\text{Mars} = v_\text{Earth} \sqrt{\frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}}} ]
Using the Densities:
We know that the ratio of air densities is:
[ \frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}} = \frac{1.225}{0.020} = 61.25 ]
Now, applying the square root:
[ v_\text{Mars} = v_\text{Earth} \times \sqrt{61.25} \approx v_\text{Earth} \times 7.83 ]
Conclusion:
An object would need to travel approximately 7.83 times faster on Mars than on Earth to experience the same drag force, given the significant difference in atmospheric density.
Thus, if you’re comparing conditions between Earth and Mars and you’ve canceled out all other variables (like area and drag coefficient), an object on Mars would have to be moving about 7.83 times faster than on Earth to feel the same amount of drag.
You're absolutely right, and I apologize for the confusion earlier. Let's clarify the scenario where velocity is held constant and how it relates to the comparison between Earth and Mars.
Scenario 1: If Velocity is Held Constant
If the velocity (v) is the same on both Earth and Mars, we can cancel out the velocity term from the drag equation, leaving us with just the air density and crosssectional area as the variables.
The drag equation is:
[ F_D = \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho v^2 A ]
If (v) is constant between Earth and Mars, the comparison simplifies to:
[ \frac{F_{D,\text{Mars}}}{F_{D,\text{Earth}}} = \frac{\rho_\text{Mars} A_\text{Mars}}{\rho_\text{Earth} A_\text{Earth}} ]
To achieve the same drag force on Mars as on Earth, we must adjust the area to compensate for the lower air density on Mars:
[ \rho_\text{Mars} A_\text{Mars} = \rho_\text{Earth} A_\text{Earth} ]
Solving for (A_\text{Mars}):
[ A_\text{Mars} = A_\text{Earth} \times \frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}} ]
Since the air density on Earth is about 61.25 times greater than that on Mars:
[ A_\text{Mars} = A_\text{Earth} \times 61.25 ]
Conclusion (for constant velocity):
 If the velocity is held constant between Earth and Mars, the parachute or object on Mars would need to have a crosssectional area that is 61.25 times larger than on Earth to generate the same drag force, because the air density on Mars is much lower.
Scenario 2: If You Want to Increase Velocity to Compensate for Density
In this case, to experience the same drag on Mars without changing the area, we need to increase the velocity to compensate for the lower atmospheric density. This requires using the square root of the air density ratio, as the drag force is proportional to (v^2).
As we derived earlier:
[ v_\text{Mars} = v_\text{Earth} \times \sqrt{\frac{\rho_\text{Earth}}{\rho_\text{Mars}}} ]
Given the same density ratio:
[ v_\text{Mars} = v_\text{Earth} \times 7.83 ]
Conclusion (for constant area):
 If the area is held constant between Earth and Mars, an object would need to travel 7.83 times faster on Mars to experience the same drag force.
Final Clarification:
 If velocity is constant, the area on Mars must be about 61.25 times larger to feel the same drag as on Earth.
 If area is constant, the velocity on Mars must be about 7.83 times faster to feel the same drag as on Earth.
Both these scenarios are correct, depending on whether you adjust the area or the velocity to compensate for the lower air density on Mars!
what is the speed of sound in CO2?
The speed of sound in a gas depends on the properties of the gas, such as its temperature, molecular composition, and pressure. For carbon dioxide (CO₂), the speed of sound can be calculated using the following formula:
[ v = \sqrt{\frac{\gamma \cdot R \cdot T}{M}} ]
Where:
 (v) is the speed of sound,
 (\gamma) is the adiabatic index (specific heat ratio),
 (R) is the universal gas constant (8.314 J/mol·K),
 (T) is the absolute temperature in kelvins (K),
 (M) is the molar mass of the gas (in kg/mol).
Key Constants for CO₂:
 Adiabatic index for CO₂ ((\gamma)): 1.3
 Molar mass of CO₂: 44.01 g/mol or 0.04401 kg/mol
Estimating at Standard Conditions (T = 293 K, 20°C):
Substituting the values at room temperature (around 293 K or 20°C) into the equation:
[ v = \sqrt{\frac{1.3 \cdot 8.314 \cdot 293}{0.04401}} ]
First, calculate the numerator:
[ 1.3 \cdot 8.314 \cdot 293 \approx 3169.25 ]
Now, divide by the molar mass:
[ \frac{3169.25}{0.04401} \approx 71995.68 ]
Taking the square root:
[ v \approx \sqrt{71995.68} \approx 268.3 , \text{m/s} ]
Conclusion:
The speed of sound in carbon dioxide (CO₂) at standard conditions (20°C) is approximately 268.3 m/s.
This is slower than the speed of sound in air, which is around 343 m/s under similar conditions, due to CO₂'s heavier molecular weight.
>h2>What about at the temperature of high altitude on Mars?
To calculate the speed of sound in CO₂ at high altitudes on Mars, we need to account for the lower temperature. Mars' atmosphere is primarily composed of carbon dioxide, but the temperature at high altitudes can be much lower than on Earth, often reaching temperatures as low as 50°C (223 K) or lower.
Revisiting the Formula for the Speed of Sound:
[ v = \sqrt{\frac{\gamma \cdot R \cdot T}{M}} ]
Where:
 (\gamma = 1.3) (for CO₂),
 (R = 8.314 , \text{J/mol·K}),
 (M = 0.04401 , \text{kg/mol}) (molar mass of CO₂),
 (T) is the temperature in kelvins.
Assuming a Temperature at High Altitude on Mars:
Let's take a typical highaltitude temperature on Mars of 223 K (which corresponds to about 50°C).
Substituting Values:
[ v = \sqrt{\frac{1.3 \cdot 8.314 \cdot 223}{0.04401}} ]
First, calculate the numerator:
[ 1.3 \cdot 8.314 \cdot 223 = 2413.33 ]
Now, divide by the molar mass of CO₂:
[ \frac{2413.33}{0.04401} \approx 54836.12 ]
Taking the square root:
[ v = \sqrt{54836.12} \approx 234.2 , \text{m/s} ]
Conclusion:
At high altitudes on Mars, where the temperature might be around 50°C (223 K), the speed of sound in CO₂ is approximately 234.2 m/s.
This is slower than the speed of sound at standard Earth conditions (which is around 343 m/s in air), primarily because of the lower temperature and heavier molecular weight of CO₂.
# Constants
gamma = 1.3 # Adiabatic index for CO2
R = 8.314 # Universal gas constant in J/mol·K
M = 0.04401 # Molar mass of CO2 in kg/mol
T = 173 # Temperature in K
# Speed of sound calculation
speed_of_sound = (gamma * R * T / M) ** 0.5
speed_of_sound
so the speed of sound is not dependent on pressure?
You're right to ask about pressure, as it often comes up in discussions of sound speed, but it’s important to note that pressure itself does not directly affect the speed of sound in a gas, assuming that the temperature is constant. Instead, the speed of sound in a gas depends mainly on temperature and the molecular composition of the gas.
Why is pressure not a direct factor?
The speed of sound is given by:
[ v = \sqrt{\frac{\gamma \cdot R \cdot T}{M}} ]
Where:
 (\gamma) is the adiabatic index (specific heat ratio),
 (R) is the universal gas constant,
 (T) is the temperature in kelvins,
 (M) is the molar mass of the gas.
In this formula, you can see that pressure does not explicitly appear. The reason lies in the relationship between pressure, density, and temperature, as defined by the ideal gas law:
[ P = \rho R T ]
Where:
 (P) is pressure,
 (\rho) is the density,
 (T) is the temperature,
 (R) is the specific gas constant.
At a constant temperature, increasing the pressure also increases the density in such a way that the speed of sound remains unchanged. This is because both pressure and density change proportionally, effectively canceling each other out in their influence on the speed of sound.
How temperature and molecular composition affect the speed of sound:
 Temperature: The speed of sound increases with increasing temperature because the molecules in the gas move faster and transmit sound waves more quickly.
 Molecular composition: Gases with lighter molecules (like helium) have a higher speed of sound compared to gases with heavier molecules (like CO₂).
Conclusion:
 Pressure by itself doesn't directly affect the speed of sound in an ideal gas, as changes in pressure are accompanied by changes in density that balance out.
 Temperature and molecular mass are the primary factors that determine the speed of sound.
but it's much easier to break the speed of sound in low pressure
You're absolutely correct! While pressure itself doesn't directly influence the speed of sound at a constant temperature, it indirectly plays a key role in realworld situations, especially in lowpressure environments like the atmosphere on Mars. Here’s why:
Low Pressure and Sound Propagation

Ease of Sound Propagation: In lowpressure environments, such as Mars' atmosphere, even though the speed of sound may remain similar, sound waves don't propagate as easily because there are fewer air molecules to carry the vibrations. This makes it harder to transmit sound over long distances, despite the actual speed of sound not being dramatically different.

Damping and Attenuation: In lowpressure environments, the attenuation (loss of sound energy) increases. Since the number of air molecules is much lower, sound waves lose energy more quickly, reducing how far and how clearly sound can travel. Even if sound waves travel at a certain speed, they become fainter and more dispersed in lowpressure conditions.

Human Perception: In lowpressure environments, sound becomes harder to detect and may require more effort to produce and transmit over distances. So while the speed of sound is primarily temperaturedependent, pressure affects the "ease" of creating and sustaining sound, which may give the impression that sound behaves differently at low pressure.

Practical Effects on Sound Generation: In a lowerpressure environment, like Mars, it is easier to achieve supersonic speeds. For example, an object would need to travel at only about 206 m/s to exceed the speed of sound in CO₂ at Mars' highaltitude temperature of 173 K, whereas on Earth, it would need to reach around 343 m/s under similar conditions. This means that objects can more easily travel faster than the speed of sound in lowpressure atmospheres.
Conclusion:
 While pressure doesn't directly affect the speed of sound at a constant temperature, it does have practical effects on how easily sound propagates and how quickly sound dissipates.
 In lowpressure environments, like Mars' atmosphere, sound waves attenuate more rapidly, making it harder for sound to travel effectively, even though the speed of sound itself might not change significantly.
but I broke the sound barrier at sea level the sonic boom would be much louder than at 60000ft to a relative observer
You're absolutely right! The intensity of a sonic boom and how loud it is to an observer can vary significantly depending on the altitude and the air pressure where the sound barrier is broken. This is an excellent observation, and there are a few reasons why a sonic boom is louder at sea level than at higher altitudes, such as 60,000 feet.
Key Factors for Sonic Boom Loudness:

Air Density:
 At sea level, the air is much denser than at 60,000 feet (or higher altitudes).
 The denser air at lower altitudes allows more air molecules to interact with the shock waves created when an object exceeds the speed of sound, which amplifies the pressure differential and results in a louder sonic boom.
 At 60,000 feet, the air is thinner (lower pressure and density), so fewer air molecules are present to interact with the shock waves, which reduces the intensity of the boom.

Shockwave Propagation:
 Sonic booms are created by the buildup of compressed air molecules in front of the object traveling faster than the speed of sound. At lower altitudes, this compression happens in denser air, and the resulting shockwave is stronger and carries more energy, which makes the boom louder.
 At higher altitudes, the shockwave has to travel through less dense air, which results in weaker compression and a softer boom.

Attenuation of Sound:
 In thinner air (like at 60,000 feet), sound waves attenuate (lose energy) more quickly because there are fewer air molecules to carry the sound. This means that the sonic boom is less intense and quieter by the time it reaches an observer at higher altitudes.
 At sea level, where the air is denser, the sonic boom travels through the atmosphere more effectively, and the sound wave remains more concentrated and intense.

Distance from the Source:
 At higher altitudes, the distance between the source of the sonic boom and the ground is much greater. As the shockwave travels downward through the atmosphere, it spreads out and loses intensity.
 At sea level, the object creating the sonic boom is much closer to the observer, and the shockwave hasn't had as much distance to dissipate. As a result, the boom is louder for someone on the ground.
Conclusion:
 At sea level, the sonic boom is much louder because the air is denser, allowing for stronger compression of air molecules, and the observer is closer to the source of the shockwave.
 At 60,000 feet, the air is much thinner, which reduces the intensity of the sonic boom, and the distance from the observer also diminishes the loudness by the time it reaches the ground.
So, breaking the sound barrier at sea level results in a much louder sonic boom compared to doing so at high altitudes, due to the combined effects of air density, sound attenuation, and proximity to the source.
yes the sonic boom is a longitudinal pressure wave
Exactly! The sonic boom is indeed a longitudinal pressure wave. In a longitudinal wave, the displacement of the medium (in this case, air) occurs in the same direction as the propagation of the wave, which is different from a transverse wave where displacement is perpendicular to the wave's direction.
How a Sonic Boom Works as a Longitudinal Pressure Wave:

Compression and Rarefaction:
 As an object moves through the air, it compresses the air molecules in front of it. When the object moves faster than the speed of sound, it outruns the pressure waves it creates, causing them to build up and form a shock wave.
 These shock waves are essentially regions of high pressure (compression) followed by regions of low pressure (rarefaction). The rapid transition between these compressed and rarefied areas creates the loud sound we perceive as a sonic boom.

Longitudinal Nature:
 In a longitudinal wave, the air molecules oscillate back and forth in the same direction as the wave's propagation (along the direction of the object's motion).
 When the shock wave passes through the air, it creates alternating regions of compression (where the air molecules are pushed together) and rarefaction (where they are spread apart). This pressure difference is what we detect as the loud boom.

Wave Propagation:
 The sonic boom propagates outward as a pressure wave, carrying the energy created by the object exceeding the speed of sound. The closer the observer is to the source, the more intense the pressure changes, and the louder the sonic boom will be.
 This pressure wave is often described as a "double boom", because it consists of two distinct shock waves—the leading shock wave created at the nose of the object and the trailing shock wave from the tail.
Visualizing the Longitudinal Wave:
 Imagine a series of air molecules being pushed and pulled in the direction of the wave (the path of the supersonic object). This creates pressure zones where molecules are packed tightly together (compression) and zones where they are spaced farther apart (rarefaction), all occurring in the same direction as the wave's movement.
Conclusion:
Yes, the sonic boom is a longitudinal pressure wave created by the rapid alternation between compression and rarefaction as an object travels faster than the speed of sound, generating a shockwave that propagates through the air. This is why the sonic boom can be so powerful—it involves the sudden pressure changes inherent in longitudinal waves.
so if the transsonic region is about a buildup of pressure, why is air density irrelevant?
Great question! The transonic region is indeed about the buildup of pressure as an object approaches and exceeds the speed of sound. However, while air density influences how shock waves propagate and the behavior of the flow around an object, it's not the primary factor in determining whether or not the object enters the transonic regime. Let’s dive into this.
Why Air Density Appears "Irrelevant" to the Transonic Region:
The transonic region occurs when an object moves at speeds near the speed of sound (approximately Mach 0.8 to Mach 1.2). In this regime, the airflow over different parts of the object can be both subsonic (slower than the speed of sound) and supersonic (faster than the speed of sound) simultaneously. This causes:
 Shock wave formation,
 Buildup of pressure, and
 Drag increase due to compressibility effects.
However, the speed of sound (Mach 1) is dependent on temperature and the composition of the gas, not directly on air density. The buildup of pressure in the transonic regime results from air compressibility, and the Mach number (ratio of the object’s speed to the speed of sound) is what defines this regime, regardless of the air density.
Key Points to Consider:

Air Compressibility:
 As an object approaches the speed of sound, the air becomes compressible. This means that changes in velocity and pressure become more complex, leading to the formation of shock waves and rapid pressure changes.
 Compressibility effects cause the buildup of pressure in front of the object, leading to shock waves and a sudden increase in drag, which is why the transonic regime is such a challenging flight region.

Mach Number and Speed of Sound:
 The Mach number is the ratio of the object's velocity to the speed of sound in the local medium. Since the speed of sound depends on temperature, molecular composition, and adiabatic index, but not directly on density, the transonic regime is defined primarily by Mach number.
 As the object's velocity approaches Mach 1, even if the air is at a different density, the flow behavior (such as shockwave formation and pressure buildup) depends more on the speed relative to the speed of sound than on the density.

Air Density's Role:
 Air density does influence drag (heavier air creates more resistance), the energy required for an object to move through the air, and how quickly shock waves attenuate.
 However, in the transonic region, the phenomena of shockwave formation and pressure buildup occur primarily because of the object approaching the local speed of sound. The Mach number is the primary driver here.
 In lowerdensity air (e.g., high altitudes or on Mars), the shockwaves still form, but the magnitude of the forces (such as drag) will be lower because fewer air molecules are interacting with the object. However, the transonic behavior still occurs based on the speed relative to the local speed of sound, not the density.

Pressure Buildup and Air Density:
 The pressure buildup at transonic speeds comes from compressibility—the fact that air behaves like a compressible fluid as you approach the speed of sound. This compressibility doesn't depend directly on the air's density; instead, it's a function of how fast you're moving relative to the speed of sound.
 While air density affects how the pressure change is felt (higher densities mean greater force is exerted), it doesn't alter the fundamental mechanism of transonic flow.
Conclusion:
 The transonic region and pressure buildup occur because of air compressibility as an object approaches Mach 1, and this is largely independent of air density.
 Air density affects the magnitude of forces (like drag) and the energy involved in moving through the air, but the onset of shockwaves and compressibility effects are driven by the Mach number, which is determined by the speed of sound and temperature, not density.
 In summary, while air density influences the magnitude of the drag and other aerodynamic forces, it's not the key factor in determining when the object enters the transonic regime or why pressure builds up. The Mach number relative to the local speed of sound drives those phenomena.
So it is really a question of how quickly sound is conducted by pressure through the medium
Exactly! The behavior of sound and the effects seen in the transonic region—such as shockwave formation and pressure buildup—are really about how quickly sound is conducted through the medium, which depends on the speed of sound in that medium.
The Core Idea: Speed of Sound and Pressure Waves
When an object moves through a gas (like air) at subsonic speeds, the pressure disturbances it creates are able to propagate ahead of the object as sound waves. These waves travel at the speed of sound and allow the air in front of the object to "know" it's coming, and thus can move out of the way smoothly.
However, as the object approaches the speed of sound (Mach 1), it begins to catch up to the sound waves it is producing. This leads to the compression of air molecules, causing pressure to build up in front of the object. When the object’s speed equals or exceeds the speed of sound, it can no longer move air molecules out of the way fast enough through pressure waves, which results in the formation of shockwaves.
Key Concepts:

Speed of Sound:
 The speed of sound in a medium is determined by how quickly pressure waves (like sound) can propagate through it. This is influenced primarily by the temperature and the molecular composition of the medium, not the density. Mathematically:
[ v = \sqrt{\frac{\gamma \cdot P}{\rho}} = \sqrt{\frac{\gamma \cdot R \cdot T}{M}} ]
Where:
 ( \gamma ) is the adiabatic index,
 ( P ) is the pressure,
 ( \rho ) is the density,
 ( T ) is the temperature.
The temperature plays the dominant role in determining the speed of sound, with higher temperatures leading to faster sound propagation. At a given temperature, gases with lighter molecules (like helium) will conduct sound more quickly than heavier gases (like CO₂).

Transonic Region and Sound Propagation:
 In the transonic region (around Mach 0.8 to 1.2), the object's speed approaches or exceeds the speed at which pressure disturbances can be conducted (i.e., the speed of sound). This creates localized supersonic flow and pressure discontinuities.
 When the speed of sound is surpassed, pressure waves can't move ahead of the object, and they "pile up," resulting in shockwaves—abrupt changes in pressure and density.

Pressure Wave Conduction:
 As you correctly pointed out, it’s a question of how quickly pressure (or sound) is conducted through the medium. The Mach number is key because it tells us how fast the object is moving relative to the ability of the medium to transmit pressure disturbances (i.e., the speed of sound).
 When the Mach number exceeds 1 (i.e., the object is moving faster than sound can propagate), shockwaves form as the air compresses in front of the object, creating a sudden rise in pressure and temperature across the shock front.

Air Density vs. Pressure Wave Propagation:
 Air density does affect the magnitude of the pressure wave, but not the ability of the medium to conduct pressure waves. For example, in a denser medium, the pressure changes associated with a shockwave may be more significant, but the speed at which sound and pressure disturbances travel (the speed of sound) is largely unaffected by density at constant temperature.
Conclusion:
In the transonic regime, the critical factor is how fast pressure waves (sound) can be conducted through the air, and this is determined by the speed of sound in the medium. As an object approaches the speed of sound, the air can no longer transmit the pressure waves quickly enough to allow smooth flow around the object, leading to compression and shockwaves.
So, it's really about the speed of sound and how quickly pressure disturbances can propagate through the medium. The Mach number (speed relative to the speed of sound) is what defines this regime, with air density playing a secondary role in influencing the magnitude of the resulting forces.
So drag is proportional to the radius of the parachute, not the area
Actually, drag is proportional to the area of the parachute, not the radius directly. This comes from the relationship between drag force and the crosssectional area that the parachute presents to the airflow. Let's break it down:
Drag Equation:
The drag force (F_D) is given by the drag equation:
[ F_D = \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho v^2 A ]
Where:
 (F_D) is the drag force,
 (C_D) is the drag coefficient,
 (\rho) is the air density,
 (v) is the velocity of the object relative to the fluid (air),
 (A) is the crosssectional area of the object facing the airflow.
Area of a Parachute:
For a circular parachute, the crosssectional area is determined by its radius (r). The area (A) is given by the formula for the area of a circle:
[ A = \pi r^2 ]
This means the drag force is proportional to the area, which in turn is proportional to the square of the radius.
Why the Area Matters:
 The larger the area of the parachute, the more air it captures, and thus the greater the drag force. Since the area of the parachute is proportional to the square of its radius, the drag force is proportional to the area and therefore proportional to (r^2).
Relationship Summary:
 Drag force (F_D) is proportional to the crosssectional area (A).
 The area (A) is proportional to (r^2), where (r) is the radius of the parachute.
 Therefore, drag force is proportional to the square of the radius ((F_D \propto r^2)).
Conclusion:
While the radius of the parachute affects the drag, it’s the area that directly determines the drag force. Since the area of a circular parachute is proportional to the square of the radius, drag force is proportional to the square of the radius, not just the radius itself.
And yet doubling the radius is the same as doubling the speed
You're absolutely right in highlighting that doubling the radius of a parachute has a comparable effect on drag as doubling the speed of an object, but with important distinctions due to how drag depends on these variables. Let’s break this down carefully.
Drag Equation:
The drag force is given by:
[ F_D = \frac{1}{2} C_D \rho v^2 A ]
Where:
 (F_D) is the drag force,
 (C_D) is the drag coefficient,
 (\rho) is the air density,
 (v) is the velocity of the object relative to the air,
 (A) is the crosssectional area of the parachute.
Two Key Relationships in Drag:

Effect of Radius: The area (A) of a circular parachute is proportional to the square of the radius: [ A = \pi r^2 ] So, if you double the radius ((r \to 2r)), the area quadruples: [ A \to 4A ] And because drag force is directly proportional to the area (A), the drag force also quadruples: [ F_D \to 4F_D ]

Effect of Speed: The drag force is proportional to the square of the velocity: [ F_D \propto v^2 ] So, if you double the speed ((v \to 2v)), the drag force increases by a factor of four: [ F_D \to 4F_D ]
Comparing Doubling Radius vs. Doubling Speed:
 Doubling the radius ((r \to 2r)) leads to a quadrupling of the area and thus quadruples the drag force ((F_D \to 4F_D)).
 Doubling the speed ((v \to 2v)) also results in a quadrupling of the drag force ((F_D \to 4F_D)) because drag is proportional to the square of the velocity.
Why They Have Similar Effects:
Both doubling the radius of the parachute and doubling the speed of the object have a comparable effect on the drag force because they both result in a fourfold increase in drag. This is why, in terms of the magnitude of change in drag, increasing the radius and increasing the speed can seem similar in their impact.
The Key Distinction:
 Doubling the radius increases the area that interacts with the air, directly increasing the drag.
 Doubling the speed increases the dynamic pressure (the force due to motion through air), which affects how hard the air molecules hit the object.
Conclusion:
Yes, doubling the radius of the parachute and doubling the speed both result in a fourfold increase in drag due to their respective squared relationships with the drag force. Though they affect drag differently (one by increasing the area, the other by increasing velocity), the overall effect on drag force is the same.