Thermal imaging aids hypersonic research

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The aerospace research group at the University of Manchester is testing models and aircraft components subjected to air flowing at more than five times the speed of sound using a thermal imaging camera.

For the purpose of space exploration and aircraft technologies, researchers are exploring travelling at more than five times the speed of sound, attaining speeds higher than Mach 5, which are referred to as hypersonic. Airflows this fast put a huge strain on the aerodynamic and thermal properties of fuselages and their components.

Professor Konstantinos Kontis, head of the University’s aerospace research group, commented: ‘[Using a thermal camera] allows us to record tiny temperature differences. With the external triggering options and high speed video capturing capabilities it is the perfect tool for this type of test.’

To capture the thermal footage and perform the initial analysis of the temperature data, the research group used a Flir SC655 camera and Flir ResearchIR software. ‘The Flir SC655 thermal imaging camera is a crucial tool for these developments, which will lead to better version of hypersonic craft like the Boeing X-5 and the NASA X-43,' added Kontis.

His research group believe that knowledge gained by these wind tunnel tests will help enhance designs for high-speed aircrafts and re-entry space vessels that need to be capable of bringing payloads to orbit and returning to the Earth's surface.

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