Last week, NASA announced that they had successfully imaged the shock waves from a supersonic jet using a 150-year old photography technique from Germany. From their press release:

"This schlieren image dramatically displays the shock wave of a supersonic jet flying over the Mojave Desert. Researchers used NASA-developed image processing software to remove the desert background, then combined and averaged multiple frames to produce a clear picture of the shock waves."

Imaging Shock Waves
© NASA Photo

This is the first time this technique has been used successfully outside of the tightly controlled conditions in wind tunnels, more accurately reflecting real atmosphere conditions where things like humidity and temperature gradients come into play. Since current regulations prohibit the creation of sonic booms over populated areas, the hope is that information gleaned from these images can help engineers mitigate the noise created by our fastest aircraft, ultimately making them commercially viable. 

Read more in NASA's press release.

Every September we here at Symbiartic take the opportunity to dish up a daily dose of sciart featuring all the incredible artists we haven’t been able to get to during the year. Curious to see the inspiring artists we’ve featured in the September SciArt Blitz over the years? Check out previous years’ galleries: 

2014  |  2013  |  2012