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High-speed Imaging of Global Surface Temperature Distributions on Hypersonic Ballistic-Range ProjectilesThe NASA-Ames ballistic range provides a unique capability for aerothermodynamic testing of configurations in hypersonic, real-gas, free-flight environments. The facility can closely simulate conditions at any point along practically any trajectory of interest experienced by a spacecraft entering an atmosphere. Sub-scale models of blunt atmospheric entry vehicles are accelerated by a two-stage light-gas gun to speeds as high as 20 times the speed of sound to fly ballistic trajectories through an 24 m long vacuum-rated test section. The test-section pressure (effective altitude), the launch velocity of the model (flight Mach number), and the test-section working gas (planetary atmosphere) are independently variable. The model travels at hypersonic speeds through a quiescent test gas, creating a strong bow-shock wave and real-gas effects that closely match conditions achieved during actual atmospheric entry. The challenge with ballistic range experiments is to obtain quantitative surface measurements from a model traveling at hypersonic speeds. The models are relatively small (less than 3.8 cm in diameter), which limits the spatial resolution possible with surface mounted sensors. Furthermore, since the model is in flight, surface-mounted sensors require some form of on-board telemetry, which must survive the massive acceleration loads experienced during launch (up to 500,000 gravities). Finally, the model and any on-board instrumentation will be destroyed at the terminal wall of the range. For these reasons, optical measurement techniques are the most practical means of acquiring data. High-speed thermal imaging has been employed in the Ames ballistic range to measure global surface temperature distributions and to visualize the onset of transition to turbulent-flow on the forward regions of hypersonic blunt bodies. Both visible wavelength and infrared high-speed cameras are in use. The visible wavelength cameras are intensified CCD imagers capable of integration times as short as 2 ns. The infrared camera uses an Indium Antimonide (InSb) sensor in the 3 to 5 micron band and is capable of integration times as short as 500 ns. The projectiles are imaged nearly head-on using expendable mirrors offset slightly from the flight path. The proposed paper will discuss the application of high-speed digital imaging systems in the NASA-Ames hypersonic ballistic range, and the challenges encountered when applying these systems. Example images of the thermal radiation from the blunt nose of projectiles flying at nearly 14 times the speed of sound will be given.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Wilder, Michael C. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Reda, Daniel C. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
March 29, 2004
Subject Category
Meeting Information
26th International Congress on High-Speed Photography and Photonics(Alexandria, VA)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.