NASA's glowing plane improves the flow of aeronautic design

Summary:Can fluorescent oil help researchers develop new aeronautic designs?

Build a tiny plane, cover it in fluorescent oil, and use the results to improve the design of our future air-based transport.

This is what researchers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. hope to achieve with a toy-sized model of a hybrid plane. The image above shows a 5.8 percent scale model of a futuristic hybrid wing body, coated in fluorescent oil before being blasted with air.

The team sent the hybrid plane through a subsonic wind tunnel to document and "see" the flow patterns of air when it passes over and around the model.

While a vast amount of data can be recorded by viewing the movement of a plane with the naked eye, by using oil, researchers can view minute details and tweak designs with more precision as a result. By documenting lift and drag in this manner, NASA can further the development and improve the efficiency of future planes and their aerodynamics.

The space agency has been pushing research to improve flight efficiency in recent years. As an example, NASA and aircraft carrier Boeing have formed a partnership to improve the flight of craft in space and more efficiently transport crew to and from the International Space Station.

Via: Gizmodo | NASA

Image credit: NASA

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.