Faster than the speed of sound

In recent years, the United States aerospace and defense industry has become increasingly invested in vehicles traveling at hypersonic speed, or more than five times faster than the speed of sound. But what happens when an object travels that fast? College of Science and Engineering professors Tom Schwartzentruber and Graham Candler are working with multiple universities across the country to find out.

Hypersonic vehicles travel at speeds higher than Mach 5, or more than 3,800 miles per hour. For reference, a commercial airplane cruises at speeds ranging from 460 and 575 miles per hour. A hypersonic vehicle can be a plane, missile, or spacecraft—such as a satellite re-entering Earth’s atmosphere or a vessel landing on Mars.

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