NASA Captures Images Of Supersonic Shockwaves Colliding In Flight

NASA snaps supersonic shockwaves interacting in flight: Wowza!

The result is stunning images that show the interaction between shockwaves and aircraft for the first time ever.

NASA used a B-200 King Air accompanied by an advanced camera system which increased the quality of the images showing the interactions of the supersonic jet shockwaves.

According to a statement from NASA, the jets were flying about 30 feet away from each other, with a King Air flying about 2,000 feet above them - all of it perfectly timed so that the cameras could record the images within seconds.

"What is interesting is, if you look at the rear T-38, you see these shocks kind of interact in a curve". "This data is really going to help us advance our understanding of how these shocks interact", the researcher added. It was not simple for scientists to research supersonic shockwaves, as they are incredibly loud, and they create sonic booms.

L.V. Anderson is Digg's managing editor.

The aim: Pretty though the images are, there's a serious objective: collecting data to help with the design of NASA's new X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane.

NASA snaps supersonic shockwaves interacting in flight: Wowza!

The shockwaves caught in the images are what create the sonic boom people hear when a plane breaks the sounds barrier, according to Popular Science magazine. For NASA has released awe-inspiring images marking the split-second sonic boom shockwaves as they ripple from supersonic planes - in a world first.

"We never dreamt that it would be this clear, this attractive", said physical scientist JT Heineck of NASA's Ames Research Centre in California. Once it's developed, this supersonic plane could be granted approval to fly over land, however, additional testing will be needed before NASA can take this next step. To do that, the agency needs to understand the intimate details of how supersonic shockwaves work.

"Just looking at the data for the first time, I think things worked out better than we had imagined".

The images feature a pair of T-38s from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, flying in formation at supersonic speeds.

The exercise is in preparation for NASA's Low-Boom Flight Demonstration of the X-59. Sonic booms can carry for huge distances and, depending on how far they have to travel, they can shatter windows, shake buildings, and generally disrupt life... but what does a sonic boom look like? Accordingly, the X-59 has been unofficially dubbed the "Little Concorde", after the now-retired French-built supersonic airliner.

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