Jumping the Tallest Cliff in the Solar System

Cliff Jumping in Space!
Photo of Mt Thor.

Mount Thor (in Nunavut, Canada) has the tallest cliff face on Earth.

Let’s talk extreme sports. What's more extreme than jumping off a cliff with a parachute? Jumping off the highest cliff known to humankind, that’s what!

You should never attempt to jump off any cliff, with or without a parachute. Only trained professionals do this.

Here’s the thing: This super-high cliff is not here on Earth. It’s a whole lot taller than what we’ve got on our planet.

The Tallest Cliff on Earth

Height comparison of Empire State Building, Mt Thor, and Verona Rupes.

This figure is to scale.

To get a good comparison, we would first have to take a trip to the remote and rugged mountains of northern Canada to see the tallest cliff on Earth.

There, we would find ourselves at the base of Mount Thor. We’d also be in front of a massive cliff. The cliff is 4,100 feet tall—without any breaks.

If we were to drop a bowling ball from the top (something you should never ever do), it would take almost 20 seconds for it to hit the ground. Count that out in your head: 1… 2… 3… 4…. That’s a lot of falling! By the time it reaches the ground, the ball would be traveling over 150 miles per hour! That would be a pretty extreme fall for a professional cliff jumper.

The Tallest Cliff Known to Humans!

Not impressed? Fine. But the tallest cliff known to us is in a place even more remote than northern Canada. We would have to take a long journey to find it.

It’s on a moon named Miranda in orbit around Uranus. That’s right near the far edge of our solar system. It’s estimated that this cliff—named Verona Rupes—is over six miles high. It’s nearly 33,000 feet tall. That’s five times the depth of the Grand Canyon and taller than Mount Everest!

Extreme Space Jump or Leisurely Tumble?

So what would happen if our trained professional/extreme astronaut jumped from something that high? You probably wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that it would take a long time to fall.

anitmation of a cliff jumping astronaut.

But what might shock you is how long it would take. The fall would last a full eight minutes. You might also be surprised to learn that the jumper would be going much slower by the time he or she reached the ground. The jumper would max out at around only 90 miles per hour and might even be able to land safely with some sort of futuristic airbag!

The fall would take so much more time because Miranda is much smaller than Earth. That means it has less gravity. In fact, the gravity is only 0.008 times as strong there as compared to Earth.

So maybe our super long space jump wouldn’t be that extreme after all?

article last updated November 20, 2014
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