Air turbulence research could lead to safer flights

Air turbulence research could lead to safer flights

Air turbulence research could lead to safer flights

That’s true, but the rest is a bit self-promotion than a real thing. At least it’s what I think.

Depiction of turbulence

by Maria Callier
Air Force Office of Scientific Research

6/18/2008 – ARLINGTON, Va. (AFPN) — Air
Force Research Laboratory officials are funding scientists who are
researching ways to identify and predict turbulence through the
detection of underlying air patterns.

Researchers believe the detection of these underlying structures will
make it possible to forecast clear-air turbulence. This capability
would benefit manned and unmanned military aircraft.

The work is equally important for the safety of high-altitude Air Force
operations, as well as the stable pointing of onboard laser weapons.
Ultimately, this Lagrangian skeleton approach could also be used to
locate the source of dispersed chemical or radioactive pollution, thus
improving homeland security.

Dr. George Haller, professor of mechanical engineering, and MIT
graduate student Manikandan Mathur, lead a research team exploring the
impact of turbulence on engines, airframes and consequently, air
travelers. The two have made a discovery they refer to as the
“Lagrangian skeleton of turbulence,” since the work of 19th century
mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange inspired the team’s particle-based
approach.

The air pattern structure underlying turbulence is a complicated,
ever-changing configuration that affects the motion of nearby particles
(e.g., pollutants, stratospheric ice crystals). Monitoring the
backscattering of onboard lasers enables detection of this particle
movement, which serves as a reliable predictor of ensuing turbulence.
The MIT scientists used nonlinear, dynamical systems theory to
translate the recorded data necessary for uncovering these effects.

The team is currently working to reduce the time it takes to produce
detailed images of detected structures. The researchers are also
developing laser-based scanning techniques that yield more complete
wind data.


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