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UPDATE # 5 - January 2, 1998

PART 1: Follow an Actual Wind Tunnel Test
PART 2: New Aerospace Team Online Chat Schedule
PART 3: Chatting with Enthusiastic NASA Experts
PART 4: One Month To Go!
PART 5: Preparing a Research Paper for a Conference
PART 6: Subscribing and Unsubscribing


During the next few weeks we will highlight a series of special
journals following a High Speed Research Wind Tunnel Test from the
planning stage throughout the test. The first two journals are by Fanny
Zuniga, Aerospace Engineer. This is an unprecedented opportunity to follow
research as it happens. The journals can be found at


About once per week, another ADTO expert is featured in an online
chat. Students usually find these events quite exciting ("Mom, in
school today I met someone who works for NASA!"). It is also a way
for kids to practice their reading, writing and question forming
skills. A biography of the chat guest is always available beforehand
to help students prepare for the experience.

To participate, you will need to have basic Internet connectivity in
your school. Often teachers arrange for one or two students to type
the questions brainstormed by a lively class discussion, so a
computer for each student is not necessary (or encouraged).

If you plan to chat, you must register for the event ahead of time.
Everybody is always welcome to observe the chat (no RSVP is required).

For more details, and for the complete schedule, please visit:



Tuesday, January 6, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time:
Fanny Zuniga, Aerospace Engineer in High Speed Research (Women of NASA)
Fanny is the Project Manager for an upcoming test of a future supersonic
airliner. Read her biography and journals prior to joining this chat.
Register for her chat at

Wednesday, January 7, 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Pacific Time:
Grant Palmer, Computational Fluid Dynamics Engineer,
Grant works in computational fluid dynamics. He writes programs to
predict the heat of vehicles re-entering earth's atmosphere. Read his
biography and journal prior to joining this chat.
Register for Grant's chat at

Thursday, January 15, 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Pacific Time:
Larry Young, Aeromechanics Research Engineer,
Larry is Project Manager for the Tilt Rotor Aeroacoustic Model. He
specializes in tilt rotor aeromechanics. Read his biography and journals
prior to joining this chat.
Register for Larry's chat at

The week of January 19, TBD
Mina Cappuccio, Aerospace Engineer, High Speed Research
Mina works on propulsion airframe integration for the High Speed Civil


by Fanny Zuniga

December 19, 1997

Welcome to the High-Speed Research Wind Tunnel Test. My name is Fanny
Zuniga and I'm the Project Manager for an upcoming test of a future
supersonic airliner. Tune in every week to follow this test as we assemble
our model, check out all of the instruments on it, install it in the
tunnel, and then test it. If you want to know what goes on during a
wind tunnel test, this is the place! You might someday fly on a plane like
this one we are testing at NASA now.

My test is part of the High-Speed Research Program which is a NASA and
industry program studying a new Supersonic Civil Transport design. Over
the last several years two different airplane configurations have been
studied experimentally and computationally. The experimental work has
consisted of testing wind-tunnel models. The major differences in the
two configurations were the wing shapes. One wing shape was better for
takeoff and landings, while the other performed better during long-range

The latest model we are about to test has a new wing on it which hopefully
captured the best characteristics of the older shapes. It is now my job to
test this new wing to study its performance during takeoff and landing
which is when the flaps are deployed. Most of my test will involve
changing the flaps on the front and back of the wing to determine the best
way to use them. I call this my test, but I am working very closely with
other researchers from Boeing, Lockheed and other NASA centers including
Langley Research Center. It is typical of big tests like this that they
involve a big team effort. By the way, the official name of this model is
the 5% TCA. The 5% refers to the fact that the model is a 5%-scale version
of the real aircraft. The wings on the model are 6.5 feet wide, and we are
fitting it in a wind tunnel 12 feet wide. The TCA part of the name stands
for Technology Concept Aircraft which refers to this particular new wing

Our test is scheduled in the wind tunnel for late January of next year,
but we have been planning this test for eight months already. We are using
a model that was already built for a test earlier this year in a different
tunnel. New flaps were built for my particular test so this will be the
first time that we are testing this model with the new flaps. This test is
planned to be in the wind tunnel for five weeks. I want to tell you a bit
of what's happened so far during this planning phase, and then give you an
update on what's going on right now.

Planning for a test like this is a lot of work. My part in this is to make
sure we go into the tunnel with a good plan for testing the right
conditions (like speed and model attitude) and the right configurations
(like what positions the flaps are in). To do this we (the whole team)
have to agree on the the research objectives, or goals, for the test. Then
we develop a plan for every "run" we will make in the tunnel. This is
called a "run schedule." We want to answer a lot of research questions and
at the same time, use our time in the tunnel very wisely. So we try to
arrange the runs we want to make in a logical order. The run schedule is
always evolving - it can even change during the test because we might
start to run out of time and need to eliminate some runs, or because we
may learn something interesting and want to add runs to check it out
further. We also had to modify the model so we could mount it in
our tunnel.

While I am working on this, other members of the test team are very busy
too. This test has a test engineer, Rick Giddings, an Instrumentation
Engineer (see Robert Jercinovich's bio), a Software Engineer, and a Model
Design Engineer (see Rebecca Averill's bio). Rick is spending most of his
time assembling the model, making sure we have all the model parts,
getting the team members trained on special equipment for this test, and
filling out the rest of the test team positions like tunnel operators and
model mechanics which will work on the model while its in the tunnel.
Robert is now busy installing instruments which measure the
lift and drag of the whole model, and other instruments for measuring air
pressure on the surface of the wings. Which instruments we need, and how
they would fit inside the model, was all planned out over the last couple
of months. Meanwhile, Rick and I are writing our requirements for special
software which will record all of the measurements (coming from
the instruments in the model and tunnel) on a computer so that they can be
studied. Soon a programmer will be assigned to this test to write the

We had some excitement a few months ago. We always check a model to see if
it is strong enough to be tested safely in our tunnels. In this case, we
discovered that our model was not strong enough to handle the aerodynamic
loads (lift and drag) that it would experience during our test. This meant
that we would have to make the model stronger or cut out any runs that
created high loads on the model. Since the model was very near completion
when we made the discovery, it created a huge problem for us to figure out
a way to make it stronger without ruining the design and without missing
the test date.

We couldn't just weld more metal on the outside of the model because we
didn't want to change its streamlined shape. And there wasn't much room
inside for adding reinforcements. So we turned to the run schedule to cut
out conditions with the highest loads. It turned out, we would have to cut
out so much that the test would not be very useful anymore. In fact, this
test was VERY close to getting cancelled. Fortunately, our design
engineers found a way to beef up the model. They had to work 24-hours a
day and 7 days a week to get it ready in time. Their hard work has paid
off because not only did they save the test but we can still run
the whole test the way we originally planned. It typically takes good
teamwork to overcome the many problems encounted in wind-tunnel testing.

The model was strengthened by Boeing in Seattle, Washington, and then sent
here to Ames in mid-November. The picture above shows the model as it is
today. We are assembling the model and installing the intruments inside
it. The picture below shows some of the instrumentation in the fusilage.

Well, that's enough for now. Just one month left to get ready to put our
model in the tunnel. I'll keep you posted on progress and tell you more
about this test as we go along.


by Grant Palmer

October 27, 1997

One of the ways NASA researchers get the things they do out to other
researchers is to publish papers and give presentations at conferences.
This is also a good way to find out what other researchers are doing and
get some ideas for future work.

There was a conference I wanted to go to called the First Europe-US High
Speed Flow Field Database Workshop. This conference was in Italy which is
a really cool place to visit, so I was especially motivated. I work in
something called Computational Fluid Dynamics or CFD for short. CFD is the
development of computer programs that, for example, can predict how
hot a spacecraft will get when it returns to Earth before the spacecraft
is actually built and flown.

Generally a paper is about some new development you have worked on or
perhaps a new idea that no one has thought of before. This conference was
a little different in that they had a number of test cases for people to
apply their CFD programs. You would run your program and then compare the
answer you got to previously obtained experimental or flight data. It
was kind of like a contest to see who has the best CFD program.

I chose a test case involving a Japanese flight experiment. The vehicle
was a little round space probe that was flown aboard a Japanese rocket
called the H-II in 1995. The probe was put into orbit and then re-entered
the Earth's atmosphere. The friction caused by the air rushing
past the probe's surface caused it to heat up. The Japanese measured the
surface temperature of the probe and it was up to us to calculate what
this temperature was.

The CFD program I used needed to be modified to match the conditions the
space probe experienced. A colleague of mine agreed to make the necessary
changes . I then ran my computer program on the NASA supercomputer system.
The machine I used was a Cray C-90 and is the world's fastest computer.

Once my computer program finished running, I processed the data into the
format required by the conference. I generated a lot of figures and line
plots of things like temperature, pressure, and surface heat transfer. I
wrote up the paper which was then reviewed by four other researchers. They
make suggestions and corrections. The finished paper is then sent to
the printers.

It will be exciting to go to Italy and present my work. The Europeans and
Japanese also have space agencies and they have researchers who work with
CFD. It will be very valuable to check out the CFD programs they use.


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