NASA image: T-38C passes in front of the sun at supersonic speed

April 13, 2016
Credit: NASA/Ken Ulbrich

An Air Force Test Pilot School T-38C passes in front of the sun at a supersonic speed, creating shockwaves that are caught photographically for research.

NASA is using a modern version of a 150-year-old German photography technique — schlieren imagery  — to visualize supersonic flow phenomena with full-scale aircraft in flight. The results will help engineers to design a quiet supersonic transport.

Although current regulations prohibit unrestricted overland supersonic flight in the United States, a clear understanding of the location and relative strength of is essential for designing future high-speed commercial aircraft.

Explore further: Schlieren images reveal supersonic shock waves

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gkam
1 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2016
Wow, we had those Test Pilot School T-38's back in the 1960's. But the real craft was the NF-104A, with the original X-15 rocket engine in it. We had three, but Yeager wrecked one, leaving us with two having extended wingtips and nosecone to hold the attitude thrusters required for space orientation.

Glory days, I suspect.

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