High-Altitude Atmospheric Reconstruction
Armstrong researchers are participating in an ongoing effort to model high-altitude atmospheric environments in order to improve flight planning designs for high-speed vehicles. The primary atmospheric conditions of interest in the upper stratosphere and lower mesosphere include air density, temperatures, winds, pressure, and expected uncertainties. These conditions must be characterized and understood in order to ensure the safety of high-speed aircraft and the people inside them. Reliable upper atmospheric models contribute to better flight parameter choices for speed and altitude and enable faster, safer, and higher flights for ultra high-speed vehicles.
Work to date: Armstrong provided an atmospheric reconstruction of the flight regime or best-estimate atmosphere (BEA) for NASA's Hyper-X scramjet demonstrator, DARPA's Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, the U.S. Army's Advanced Hypersonic Weapon launched
glider, and the U.S. Air Force's X-51 hypersonic scramjet. Each of these projects has enabled the team to refine modeling and data collection capabilities.
Looking ahead: The team is currently working on several projects:
(1) detecting and mitigating atmospheric turbulence to improve aviation travel, (2) modeling the effects of radiation on pilots, (3) investigating how cosmic energies are affecting the atmosphere, and (4) developing sensors for in situ atmospheric measurements and transmitting these data to appropriate users.
Increased efficiency: Contributes to understanding of key parameters for ultra-high altitudes
Improved safety: Helps designers and planners reduce risks associated with atmospheric reentry and radiation exposure
High-speed aircraft test flight research
Weather prediction and climate change research
Global Positioning System (GPS) performance research
Hypersonics and Space Technologies
Akey objective of hypersonic research at NASA is to develop methods and tools that adequately model fundamental physics and allow credible physics-based optimization for future operational hypersonic vehicle systems. Research focuses on solving some of the most difficult challenges in hypersonic flight, and Armstrong innovators are contributing to this research in several ways:
- Exploring adaptive guidance systems that could detect conditions likely to result in dangerous situations and automate compensating maneuvers
- Modeling high-altitude environments to improve flight planning designs for high-speed vehicles
- Designing high-temperature insulative and advanced composite materials
This research will enable the development of highly reliable and efficient hypersonic systems.