A mass ascent of hundreds of hot-air balloons fill the skies at the International Balloon Fiesta. The balloons take off in waves in order to accommodate the more than 500 balloonists.
Rising Expectations: NASA Aeronautics Showcased at Balloon Fiesta
Visitors at the 2010 International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., not only get the visual stimulation of hundreds of colorful hot-air balloons soaring skyward, but can learn about NASA efforts toward improving aviation via an exhibit focusing on the agency's aeronautics research efforts.
NASA Aeronautics exhibit this year is focusing on its "green aviation" initiative, which seeks to test and integrate technologies for reducing aircraft noise and emissions, maximizing fuel usage and improving air-traffic management. It also features displays on the history of NASA aeronautics research, including a timeline of aviation achievements, a space shuttle tire flown on the shuttle Discovery, cockpit simulators, wind tunnels and even a "virtual airport" where visitors can zoom in to see how NASA’s technology has found its way to use on military, commercial and general aviation aircraft and helicopters.
A display about the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, which incorporates the world's largest airborne infrared telescope installed in the rear fuselage of a NASA 747SP aircraft, introduces visitors to the infrared spectrum by allowing them to see themselves on a monitor through the lens of an infrared camera.
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|NASA Dryden gift shop manager Jim Sokolik squirts a small sample of food consumed by astronauts and pilots of high-altitude aircraft on long missions into the hand of a young visitor during his life-support demonstration at the NASA exhibit at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
||Amidst the brilliant brightness of colorful balloons, the dark visage of Darth Vader appears...
|Little Kelsey Hyde is all suited up in her space suit and ready to launch as she sits in a space shuttle tire that was flown on shuttle Discovery, part of the NASA exhibit at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
||Balloons and bees – a literal beehive of activity at the 2010 International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.
Text by Jay Levine, editor, the X-Press
Photos by Jay Levine and Steve Parcel
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center