By Tim Binnall
An amazing set of images released by NASA provide the first-ever look at shockwaves interacting with each other. The remarkable photos were posted to the space agency's website earlier this week along with an explanation for how the breathtaking pictures were produced. According to NASA, the images are the culmination of more than ten years of research and technique development centered around air-to-air photography.
In this instance, the space agency had a specially-designed Boeing aircraft flying at 30,000 feet and equipped with a complex camera system. The plane then waited for a pair of Air Force T-38 jets to pass around 2,000 feet below it when it snapped the pictures. The complete maneuver, NASA marveled, required incredibly precise timing and coordination, since there was only a tiny window of opportunity to take the pictures.
"We’re seeing a level of physical detail here that I don't think anybody has ever seen before," marveled one NASA scientist about the first-of-their-kind images. The space agency says that the insights from the photographs will allow for a greater understanding of how shockwaves behave and will assist in the development of quieter supersonic aircraft in the future.