For the first time, NASA has simultaneously photographed two impact waves produced by two supersonic aircrafts in flight and by air.
A lot of know-how was needed to create the impressive images that allow NASA to add a new record to its record. On the one hand, a pair of Northrop T-38 Talons, supersonic aircraft traditionally used for pilot training. On the other hand, a Beechcraft 200 specially modified to ship optical or laser equipment for research purposes. Finally, the camera that allowed the acquisition (and modified by the engineers) is able to take 1400 fps for a total of 3 seconds.
The task was not easy to achieve, as all the actors had to do their work together to produce the images. The B200 flying at almost 9,000 m altitude was supposed to synchronize with the two T-38s flying in formation within 10 m one from the other.
In addition to our wonder, the photographs will still be used for research. NASA is studying aircraft that generate quieter supersonic booms as they pass the sound barrier. In line of view, mitigate the ban on flights over inhabited areas.
To realize the images, the space agency used a widely improved derivative of strioscopy, a German photographic technique that dates back about 150 years ago. Invented by physicist August Toepler, the system allows you to view variations when the air is compressed. Using specially developed software, images are processed and combined to produce the final photographs.