Feeds

NASA working on boomless supersonic jets

And contrived acronyms

Intelligent flash storage arrays

NASA has announced the completion of a series of flight tests aimed at reducing the "sonic boom" effect, one of the major downsides of supersonic aircraft.

Two custom-modified F-15 fighter jets were used in the test programme, referred to by NASA as Lift and Nozzle Change Effects on Tail Shock (LaNCETS*). Flying faster than sound, the lead F-15 used its custom-fitted canards (small winglets ahead of the main wings) to modify how much lift was generated by the main wing; it also changed its engine nozzle configuration.

NASA's two F-15 test craft. Note the canards added to the left-hand jet.

NASA's pimped-out Eagle test birds.

These changes altered the conical shockwaves trailing behind the plane, measured by the second F-15 using nose-mounted sensors to probe the wake of the jet just ahead. It is this shock front, trailing behind a supersonic aircraft, which produces the loud "sonic boom" when it hits the ground. The boom produced by Concorde was sufficient that the mighty Mach-2 airliner was largely restricted to subsonic speeds when over land, and meant that the London-New York route was the only one it could routinely serve.

Nobody is really planning another supersonic airliner right now: but some US makers think there would be a market for supersonic business jets, able to whisk billionaires and CEOs from continent to continent faster than today's plutocraft. But they wouldn't be much use if they couldn't go supersonic over land.

Hence the desire for boomless (or anyway, less boomy) supersonic flight. NASA has been working on fundamental research for a while, aiming to help the US aviation industry crack the technical issues. One recent effort, for instance, saw Gulfstream "Quiet Spike" nose poles fitted to NASA jets, to see if the shock cone from the spike might mask or mitigate the noise from the rest of the aircraft.

The just-completed LaNCETS effort uses a different approach, looking to find out just how different lift loads and engine nozzle shapes affected the shape and intensity of the shock cones behind a plane. The chase F-15 used differential-GPS augmented satnav kit to measure its position with respect to the lead craft exactly, allowing the sensor readings to be precisely mapped into a 3D database.

The test results "will be made available to interested university and industry partners in order to further their research objectives", according to NASA. ®

*Pah. We'd have gone with Supersonic Flight Acoustics Testing Centred on Advanced Transportation for the Superwealthy (SuperFATCATS for short).

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.