With exceptional clarity, the flow of the shock waves from both aircraft is seen, and for the first time, the interaction of the shocks can be seen in flight.
‘We’re looking at a supersonic flow, which is why we’re getting these shockwaves,’ said Neal Smith, a research engineer with AerospaceComputing Inc. at NASA Ames’ fluid mechanics laboratory.
‘What’s interesting is, if you look at the rear T-38, you see these shocks kind of interact in a curve. This is because the trailing T-38 is flying in the wake of the leading aircraft, so the shocks are going to be shaped differently. This data is really going to help us advance our understanding of how these shocks interact.’