Using telescopes and a photography technique used to capture the flow around moving objects, scientists at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center managed to capture some incredible images that show exactly what a jet does to the air when it goes supersonic.
NASA says the following photos were taken using the Ground-to-Air Schlieren Photography System, or GASPS, which used digital cameras, two telescopes and the sun as a light source. Scientists launched an F-15 and F/A-18 over Edwards Air Force Base in California and then captured the images as the jets hit supersonic speeds.
Why do this? As Aviation Week notes, this photography technique could prove more accurate and informative than traditional wind tunnel tests. It also gives a clearer understanding of how sonic booms work so that, perhaps, technology can be developed to reduce them over land and we can get Concords to ferry us from NYC to LA in a couple of hours.
Plus, it looks really cool. Isn't that enough?
Hat tip to TTYYMMNN in Oppo!