Airline Passengers, Relax: Turbulence Detectors Are on the Way

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 22, 2007   View Article

Wouldn’t it be nice if airline pilots turned on the “fasten seat belt” sign before the person standing in the aisle toppled onto your lap because of turbulence?

NASA researchers are on the job. They are developing a pair of technologies that will give pilots several minutes’ warning so they can steer clear of the erratic, gusty winds.

New Icing Warning System for U.S. Airplanes Debuts

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 6, 2006   View Article

Beginning today pilots will have more reliable information about the threat of dangerous icing conditions as they fly across the continental U.S.

The information could save the airline industry more than $20 million a year in aircraft damage and fuel by guiding pilots away from areas in the atmosphere where icing can take place, according the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado.

Fruit Flies Aerial Stunts Inspire Brain Study

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 20, 2006   View Article

Budding engineers often take apart common devices, such as toasters, and put them back together again to learn how the parts make up a working system.

But budding biologists have a harder time using this approach—once a living organism is taken apart it usually can’t be made to function again.

Now, using modern genetic engineering techniques, researchers are able to turn biological components on and off, in effect removing parts to see how each one affects the whole system.

Seagulls May Inspire New Airplane Wings, Scientists Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 24, 2006   View Article

Want to see the future of flight? Then visit the beach.

Scientists have found that airplane wings shaped similarly to those of some seagulls may reduce drag during flight.

Drag reduction saves fuel, explains Barry Lazos, an aeronautics research engineer at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

High Altitude Suits Keep Pressure on Pilots

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 19, 2006   View Article

Thank Jim Sokolik and other life-support technicians for keeping the pilots of NASA’s ER-2 high-altitude research aircraft safe and under pressure as the planes head into the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere.

Sokolik heads the High Altitude Life Support Team at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

Quieter Aircraft to Take Cues From Birds, NASA Expert Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 22, 2006   View Article

Bird-inspired technologies may be the key to dampening aircraft noise around airports, according to a NASA scientist.

“We are learning to make aircraft more like Mother Nature,” said Dennis Huff, chief of the acoustics branch at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Albatrosses fly Around World After Mating, Tags Reveal

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 13, 2005   View Article

It is well known that albatrosses take an 18-month break between mating seasons. Less clear has been where the globe-trotting birds go during their year-and-a-half respite. That is until now.

A new study reveals that some albatrosses fly around the world once. Others twice. Still others—call them relative homebodies—stick closer to their breeding grounds in the southern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach