ambience wind tunnel
We’re listening to the sounds of a wind tunnel that’s used to test wing shapes that may one day be used on an airplane. But the inspiration for the design of these shapes may surprise you. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Barry Lazos is an aeronautics research engineer at Langley Research Center.
“You can actually put an entire airplane in some wind tunnels or you can only put something as small as a Popsicle in some of these smaller wind tunnels. The wings that we tested had a wingspan of about twenty-eight inches.”
A recent test conducted by Barry Lazos included wing shapes that were inspired by animals that swim or fly. These creatures evolved solving some of the same problems that aeronautics engineers encounter like drag, or air resistance. Lazos explains a device used to test these shapes.
“It’s called an arc sector. It’s a piece of metal that’s shaped like an arc and it has a rod on the end of it that you stick the model on. The wind is going in one direction through the wind tunnel at all times — you can’t change the direction of the wind — but you can change the positioning of the model that you’re testing in there. On the rod that’s attached to the end of the arc sector there is some instrumentation that allows us to measure the lifting force and the drag force on a model that’s attached to it. And basically what it does is — we send an electrical signal into the instrumentation in this rod, and the voltage that comes back out tells us how much force is on this wing.”
We’ll hear about some of the results of these tests in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from NASA. I’m Jim Metzner.