Sonic booms are shockwaves produced by an aircraft when it is traveling over the speed of sound.
The tests involve an F/A-18 Hornet producing dive maneuvers to create sonic booms out at sea and quieter "sonic thumps" over Galveston itself. After the plane is fully tested and is considered safe, in late 2022 to begin the first experimental flights of the apparatus over certain localities of the United States. By rating the feedback from the audio sensors and the volunteers, NASA scientists will get a better idea of what people think of the plane's volume.
NASA's team leader for sonic boom community response research at Langley, Alexandra Loubeau, said, "We never know what everyone has heard. But we'd at least want to estimate an estimate of the noise level that they actually heard".
NASA research pilot Jim "Clue" Less stands next to a F/A-18 that he is flying to help test low-boom flight research.
A sonic boom is the loud thunder-like sound that happens because of shock waves that are created when an object travelling through the atmosphere travels faster than the speed of sound. "But the airplane's shape is carefully tailored such that those shockwaves do not combine", said Ed Haering, an aerospace engineer at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. To counter this noise problem, the space agency has been hard at work since 2016 in building the X-59, an aeroplane that can fly over Mach 1 or break the sound barrier, but not produce any loud, booming sounds.
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The X-59 is scheduled for delivery by the end of 2021.
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center test pilot Jim "Clue" closes at least his F/A-18's ports after reaching 49,000 feet from the trial site because he is higher than where normal airlines fly, he is in Mach 1, with the speed of sound or approximately 630 miles per hour at that height.This nearly all the airplanes have been taken to reach this peak in the sky, but it will not last long.
But these new regulations may still be years away.
"This is why the F/A-18 is so important to us as a tool", Haering said.
Why it matters: The results will help verify whether these thumps are quiet enough to avoid disturbing residential areas, and establish a testing process for the X-59.