The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the United States, as well as a foreign air traffic regulator, has severe restrictions in place on supersonic aircraft flying over populated areas due to the disruptive and damaging sound and shockwaves they produce. NASA hopes the X-59A’s shape will allow it to fly at an altitude of 55,000 feet and cruise at Mach 1.4 without anyone down below feeling anything more pronounced than an additional “heartbeat.”
The AirBOS camera system will help NASA gather important additional data regarding how the sonic booms work ahead of the X-59A’s first flight, presently scheduled to occur in 2021, and then support testing of the actual plane in 2022 and 2023. It will also help prove that the aircraft performs as advertised to the FAA and others, which could lead to relaxed restrictions on supersonic flight by future aircraft using similar design features. Having a better idea of how multiple supersonic aircraft act when flying close together could also be important for understanding the potential risks and challenges of more routine flight above the speed of sound.
The cameras will be useful for any other supersonic flight research, as well. The increased fidelity of the imagery means scientists and engineers will be able to observe physical phenomena in ways not possible giving them a greater understanding of what is happening.
“What’s interesting is if you look at the rear T-38 [in the pair photo]you see these shocks kind of interact in a curve, “Neal Smith, a research engineer with AerospaceComputing Inc. working at NASA Ames’ Fluid Mechanics Laboratory, said.” This is because the trailing T-38 is flying in the This is really going to help us advance our understanding of how these shocks interact. “
We’ll also be seeing more of these beautiful and unique high-resolution Schlieren images in the future, too
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