Wind tunnels are large tubes with air moving inside. The tunnels are used to copy the actions of an object in flight. Researchers use wind tunnels to learn more about how an aircraft will fly. NASA uses wind tunnels to test scale models of aircraft and spacecraft. Some wind tunnels are big enough to hold full-size versions of vehicles. The wind tunnel moves air around an object, making it seem like the object is really flying.
Most of the time, powerful fans move air through the tube. The object to be tested is fastened in the tunnel so that it will not move. The object can be a small model of a vehicle. It can be just a piece of a vehicle. It can be a full-size aircraft or spacecraft. It can even be a common object like a tennis ball. The air moving around the still object shows what would happen if the object were moving through the air. How the air moves can be studied in different ways. Smoke or dye can be placed in the air and can be seen as it moves. Threads can be attached to the object to show how the air is moving. Special instruments are often used to measure the force of the air on the object.
Low Speed wind tunnel (up to 480 km/h)
High Speed Wind Tunnel (0.4 < M < 1.2)
Supersonic Wind Tunnel (1.2 < M < 5)
Hypersonic Wind Tunnel (5 < M < 15)