This might look like some kind of spaceship — but it’s actually a model of a supersonic Boeing airliner. The NASA team is working out how to reduce the incredible amount of noise that a supersonic airliner generates.
It’s currently being tested in NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. NASA explains:
“We are testing overall vehicle design and performance options to reduce emissions and noise, and identifying whether the volume of sonic booms can be reduced to a level that leads to a reversal of the current ruling that prohibits commercial supersonic flight over land.”
That’s why the engines are on top of the plane — to shield the ground from noise — and also explains the presence of the funky V-tail channels. They help direct the sonic boom the aircraft creates backwards, to give it longer to dissipate and in turn protect our little ears down on the surface of the Earth. Good job, NASA. [NASA via New Scientist]