Wind below (and above) my wings

Lasers allow NASA researchers to accurately measure air flowing over a wing.

NASA / David C. Bowman

Engineers at NASA's Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia, used lasers inside a subsonic tunnel to map how air flows over a Boeing Blended Wing Body model – a greener, quieter airplane design under development.

The name for the technique is called particle image velocimetry. If you look closely you can see the light bouncing off tracer particles and cameras record the movement of those particles as the laser light pulses across the model.

A smoother flow over the wing means less fuel will be needed to power the aircraft.

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