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NASA Tests Pressure-Sensitive Paint for its Rockets

Jan 30, 2017 09:37 AM EST

The process of building life-preserving spacecraft involves the use of materials that can survive the harsh environment in space. Recently, NASA reportedly started testing the use of pressure-sensitive paint for rockets.

Scientists are now testing and experimenting the use of pressure-sensitive paint (PSP). The pressure-sensitive paint is considered a state-of-the-art material used in NASA's aerodynamic tests, and will also help rockets survuve during launch. 

During launch, PSP's react to oxygen content and will then produce light, making it a colorful sight to look at. But that's not the only reason why the pressure-sensitive paint releases a certain glow. It can actually help scientists identifying the force or pressure that the rockets are receiving during testing, according to Engadget.

The pressure points usually appear during the acceleration period while testing rockets. PSPs might also be tested on NASA's most powerful rocket called the Space Launch System.

In a test conducted by the space agency using pressure-sensitive paint, scientists were able to measure the chaotic airflow over a rocket. The test was conducted at NASA's Ames Research Center.

"It was quite a large effort with collaboration across divisions at the center, across multiple NASA centers, and among different government agencies," Nettie Roozeboom, an aerospace engineer and PSP-measurement lead at Ames said in a press release.

The simulation was accompanied by visualization and measurements that were achieved during the wind tunnel test. The rockets were designed to withstand buffering and the use of PSPs drastically helps scientists to find out where pressure is applied during launch.

In the test, there were visible colors that each represent a certain level of pressure. Red means higher-than-average pressure while blue means lower-than-average pressure. 

NASA has been exploring the possible use PSPs for some time now. NASA Ames is working with the Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Complex to conduct further studies on PSPs.

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