NASA shows first images of supersonic shock wave interaction
NASA has successfully tested advanced air-to-air photographic technology by capturing the first-ever images of the interaction of propagating shock waves from two supersonic aircraft in flight.
The photos were taken as part of research into the design of the passenger aircraftow supersonic, whichore could successfully replace the famous Concorde aircraft. The new supersonic passenger aircraft is expected to be built by 2021 by Lockheed Martin. According to the planow, the full version is expected to develop a speed of 3,000 kilometersow per hour and overcome the sound barrier without the characteristic sonic thunder – or significantly reduce it.
The images show two Northrop T-38 Talon aircraft of the U.S. Air Force flying at supersonic speeds at a distance of about 9 metersoin from each other. From both sides of the aircraftow perfectly shows the propagating shock wave in the air. The photographs were taken from a B-200 aircraft, whichory was located above the T-38.
The images were taken using an improved schlieren (streak imaging) technique, whichora allows observation of phenomena invisible to the naked eye and records changes in the density of air or water. Improved version captures three times as much data in the same amount of time.
– I am delighted. With the improved system, we were able to improve by an order of magnitude the zaroboth the speed and quality of our images – said J.T. Heineck of NASA Ames Research Center.
The improved imaging system is capable of capturing high quality imagesoin shock waves – rapid changes in pressure, ktore arise when an aircraft flies faster than the speed of sound. These efforts are aimed at improving knowledge of the characteristics of shock waves.
The system will be used to collect data needed for the development of the aforementioned X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane supersonic passenger aircraft project. Engineers hope to reduce sound thunder to a quiet rumble, which could one day lead to the lifting of restrictions on supersonic flight over land.
Images released by NASA show for the first time how shock waves affect each other. – We see this level of detail hereołow that I don’t think anyone has seen before. Improved technology is working better than we might have thought. This is a very big step,” said Dan Banks of the Armstrong Flight Research Center.