This schlieren photo depicts a wind tunnel test demonstrating air flow over the .34 percent model of the Ares V heavy cargo launch vehicle at Mach 4.5. Schlieren imaging is a diagnostic method used to visualize air flows with varying densities.
It is widely used in aeronautical engineering to photograph the flow of air around objects. Marshall engineers are testing the stainless steel and aluminum model to collect aerodynamic data that will help the Ares V team determine basic requirements for guidance, navigation and control of the Ares V vehicle.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC