NASA Quiet Sonic Boom Research Effort Ends With a Whisper

NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center recently completed NASA’s latest quiet sonic boom research study at Edwards Air Force Base.

The Waveforms and Sonic boom Perception and Response, or WSPR, project gathered data from a select group of more than 100 volunteer Edwards Air Force Base residents on their individual attitudes toward sonic booms produced by aircraft in supersonic flight over Edwards.

NASA and industry are studying technology that will reduce the noise and annoyance associated with sonic booms to the point where aircraft flying over populated areas at supersonic speeds do not disturb the peace, and aviation and governmental authorities may consider lifting prohibitions. But before the current restrictions on supersonic flight over land can be changed, much research is needed to understand how individuals and communities react to low-noise sonic booms.

WSPR's primary purpose is to develop data collection methods and test protocols for future public perception studies in communities that do not usually experience sonic booms. The base's unique flight-test airspace puts Edwards residents in a position to experience loud booms regularly, so their reactions to low-noise booms will be a valuable guide for future work in sonic boom perception and response.

"Understanding the study participants' responses to sonic booms is very important to NASA," said Larry Cliatt, Dryden’s principal investigator for the research effort. “We’re pleased with their participation.”

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