March 31, 2014

Tomorrow’s Discoveries: The Ballistic Impact Lab

Commercial air flight is one of the safest ways to travel; yet there are still risks. This was famously demonstrated when geese flew into an aircraft’s engines, forcing the plane to land on the Hudson River. Incidents, and others like it, are the reason that scientists study the nature of impacts with jet turbines.

Researchers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, working in the Ballistic Impact Lab, simulate these types of impacts. Such endeavors help engineers design the next generation of aircraft engines. This extraordinary group of scientists also provided valuable testing for return-to-flight studies for the space shuttle fleet following the Columbia accident.

Using several single-stage guns ranging in size from 1mm to 16-inch diameter, with chambers some 40 ft. long. Then, using high-speed cameras capturing up to 2.5 million images per second, team members can carefully analyze what happens during a high-speed impact inside a jet turbine, or other aerospace system.

To learn more, redOrbit traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, to see first hand the work being done to make air and space travel safer for the future.

credit: redOrbit

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