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Low Boom supersonic jet demonstrated by NASA

NASA’s new supersonic jet will have a 4K TV instead of front window

The new supersonic jet from NASA will not be having a front window. When it comes to supersonic aircrafts, engineers are willing to go the extra mile and are not afraid to carry on with a weird design if that design makes a faster plane. The latest of the lot was NASA’s X-59 QueSST which is like the shape of a pencil with wings attached. The X-59 is being developed by Lockheed Martin with a budget of $247 million.

Interesting questions have been raised like if the cockpit is meters and meters away from the nose, how will be the pilot able to see the front of it? NASA has come up with a solution of installing a 4K TV and a couple of cameras which was as per NASA’s press statement.  In place of a traditional window, the X-59 will be having a monitor and will use two cameras placed outside the aircraft combined with terrain data for the pilot to understand where they are heading. The whole system is named XVS (eXternal Visibility Systems). The cockpit of this aircraft looks like an arch of glass over the tiny wings of the plane and a small glass-covered portion in front of the cockpit will be the area for placement of cameras.

The X-59 is a part of the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration Mission, which is a great initiative to make sonic booms not very loud that it damages the ears. In 1947, engineers were able to break the sound barrier which means it can go faster than the speed of sound but a routine flight at the supersonic speed have been banned over the land of America due to extremely loud sounds produced by the aircrafts and sonic boom. Engineers have predicted that with the right shape of the plane, the impact of the sonic boom can be reduced greatly and can become more of a muffle.

A few books, if you want to know more about supersonic jets

NASA has explained the eXternal Visibility System (XVS) is one of the several innovative solutions which have been put forward to help ensure that the X-59 design and shape reduces the sonic boom to a gentle thump that can be heard by people on the ground. The design is not intended to carry passengers, however, the X-59s boom suppressing technology and community response data could help lift the current bans on supersonic flight over the American land and help in building a newer generation of quiet supersonic commercial aircrafts.

Nasa Supersonic Shockwaves Merging

NASA captures stunning images of merging supersonic shockwaves

For the first time ever in history, NASA captured air to air images of the interaction of shockwaves from two supersonic aircraft merging in the air. This was done to create a Jet that flies faster than the speed of sound without producing irritating ‘Sonic booms‘.

The greatest challenge in capturing the image was timing. NASA flew a B-200 equipped with imaging system, that took 10 years to develop, reached around 30,000 feet to acquire the spellbinding image and collected 1,400 frames per second.

The image depicts two T-38 supersonic Jets from the US Air Force, during a test flight from the research center at Air Force Base, California.

The pair of T-38s were required to not only remain in proper formation but to fly within the camera’s frame at supersonic speeds, as they passed 2,000 feet beneath the B-200. As a result, the three aircrafts were at the right place and at the right time.

“I am ecstatic about how these images turned out. We never dreamt that it would be this clear, this beautiful. With this upgraded system, we have, by an order of magnitude, improved both the speed and quality of our imagery from previous research.” J.T. Heineck, a scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, said in a statement.

The system will be used to capture data confirming the design of the agency’s X-59 to quiet supersonic Technology X-Plane. The X-59 flying supersonic will produce shockwaves in such a way that instead of sonic boom only a quiet rumble may be heard.

Low Boom Flight Demonstrator

Nasa Quiet Supersonic Technology Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (Source: NASA)

When an aircraft crosses around 1,225 km per hour at sea level, it produces waves from the pressure it puts around, producing the irritating thunderous sound called ‘Sonic booms’.

Sonic booms can be Deafening to people on the ground, responsible for shattering of window panes.
Few countries like United State and cities have banned the Franco-British airliner from their airspace because of its sonic booms.

“What’s interesting is, if you look at the rear T-38, you see these shocks kind of interact in a curve.
This is because the trailing T-38 is flying in the wake of the leading aircraft, so the shocks are going to be shaped differently. This data is really going to help us advance our understanding of how these shocks interact.” said Neal Smith, a research engineer at NASA.

These images will be helpful for research into planes that can fly faster than sound without causing irritating sonic booms, lifting current restrictions on supersonic flight over land.