NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center will conduct a series of research flights on Wednesday morning, Sept. 9 and Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 that will result in multiple sonic booms being heard in the local area of Edwards Air Force Base. The experiments will examine the structural response of large office buildings to both normal and low-amplitude sonic booms.
Portions of the flights by two NASA F/A-18 aircraft in restricted airspace over Edwards will be at supersonic speeds, and are expected to generate numerous sonic booms about two or three minutes apart during the tests. Perceived loudness of the booms will vary, and depend greatly on local atmospheric conditions, including temperature and wind profile, at the time of the flights. The flight profiles are designed to keep focused sonic booms away from surrounding communities, and the booms are not expected to be audible or felt off base.
The Sonic Booms On Big Structures – or SonicBOBS – project is part of a continuing NASA-led effort to reduce the intensity of sonic booms. This project is follow-on research to tests in 2006 that measured the perceived intensity of sonic booms on an old house, and further tests in 2007 on a house of modern construction, both located in the base housing areas.
For the current studies, four structures of varying construction have been instrumented with transducers to measure the momentary overpressure from sonic booms ranging from inaudible to about 2 psf. The two F/A-18 aircraft will fly unique flight profiles in the high altitude supersonic corridor above the base at altitudes of 32,000 to 49,000 feet.
The first sonic booms Sept. 9 will occur over a half-hour period beginning about 9 a.m. and focus on an unoccupied instrumented residence in the base housing area. The second series of flights Sept. 12, scheduled on Saturday to minimize noise, are slated for about 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon. The resulting sonic booms will be targeted on the sensors installed in and near the Consolidated Services Facility, the Edwards AFB Museum and the Environmental Management building. Saturday, Sept. 19 is a backup flight date if the flights cannot be completed on Sept. 12.
While potentially loud, these sonic booms should not cause any structural damage and Edwards residents will only hear booms that are at or below levels normally heard on the base.
SonicBOBS is a joint effort of NASA's Langley Research and Dryden Flight Research Centers, with the cooperation of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Pennsylvania State and Purdue universities. The research is sponsored by NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
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