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50 Years of Research Using Langley’s 14 by-22-Foot Subsonic Wind Tunnel

This landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” speckled with glittering stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth.

Dec. 11, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Langley Research Center’s 14×22 Subsonic Wind Tunnel.

The facility is used to assess aerodynamic performance of aircraft over a wide range of takeoff, landing, cruise, and high angle-of-attack conditions. It can provide acoustic, tethered free-flight, and forced-oscillation testing, motorsports research, aerodynamic material design studies and more.

The tunnel has been used by aircraft manufacturers, defense industry partners, the Department of Defense, and other government organizations. NASA projects have included researchers working space, science, exploration, and aeronautics programs in the continuing endeavor to achieve our NASA mission.

In this photo, engineers led by researcher Greg Gatlin have sprayed fluorescent oil on a 5.8 percent scale model of a futuristic hybrid wing body during tests in the tunnel. The oil helps researchers “see” the flow patterns when air passes over and around the model. Those patterns are important in determining crucial aircraft characteristics such as lift and drag.