The Laminar Separation Sensor: An Advanced Transition Measurement Method for Use in Wind Tunnels and Flight
Current viscous drag reduction research explores the limits of practical applications of natural laminar flow (NLF) for airplane drag reduction. To better understand these limits, advanced measurement techniques are required to study the characteristics of laminar to turbulent boundary-layer transition. Recent NASA research indicates that the transition mode which involves laminar separation can be detected using arrayed hot-film laminar separation sensor concepts. These surface-mounted sensors can provide information on the location of the laminar separation bubble as well as bubble length. This paper presents two different laminar separation sensor configurations developed in the NASA program and presents results of wind-tunnel and flight evaluations of the sensors as tools to detect boundary-layer transition.