NASA Uses Pressure-Sensitive Paint to Test Rockets
During launch, rockets experience intense vibrations as turbulent air flows around the spacecraft. These vibrations can severely stress the vehicle, putting it at risk of being shaken to pieces. To study the effects of these vibrations and minimize their impact through better design, researchers at NASA Ames Research Center are testing model rockets in wind tunnels using a high-tech, pressure-sensitive paint that reveals the fluctuating pressure loads that occur during flight. The results of one test are seen in this video simulating a rocket ascending through Earth's atmosphere traveling just under the speed of sound. In the video, areas of higher-than-average pressure are colored red; lower-than-average are blue.