Flow visualization by elastic light scattering in the boundary layer of a supersonic flow

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Langley Research Center, 2000 - Science - 23 pages
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We demonstrate instantaneous flow visualization of the boundary layer region of a Mach 2.5 supersonic flow over a flat plate that is interacting with an impinging shock wave. Tests were performed in the Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel (UPWT) at NASA Langley Research Center. The technique is elastic light scattering using 10-nsec laser pulses at 532 nm. We emphasize that no seed material of any kind, including water (H2O), is purposely added to the flow. The scattered light comes from a residual impurity that normally exists in the flow medium after the air drying process. Thus, the technique described here differs from the traditional vapor-screen method, which is typically accomplished by the addition of extra H2O vapor to the airflow. The flow is visualized with a series of thin two-dimensional light sheets (oriented perpendicular to the streamwise direction) that are located at several positions downstream of the leading edge of the model. This geometry allows the direct observation of the unsteady flow structure in the spanwise dimension of the model and also allows the indirect observation of the boundary layer growth in the streamwise dimension.

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