The objective of the Phase I and Phase II program is to develop an experimental tool that can be used to measure aerodynamic forces in a variety of bench-top settings, on model components in wind tunnels, and eventually into flight testing. The development of this balance is viewed as an enabling technology for the development of drag reduction technologies, an area of active research at NASA. Specifically, one current focus of NASA research is the Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) program and evaluation of drag reduction technologies is a key component of this program. A successful program will enable the design, construction, and deployment of custom balances that can be used in for this research. Reduction of noise using acoustic liners is a goal of the Subsonic Fixed Wing project at NASA. Evaluation of drag induced by these liners would benefit from the proposed balance. Finally, ongoing research between NASA and Boeing on the ecoDemonstrator seeks to evaluate drag reduction panels in flight. A balance design that could be deployed for flight testing on small samples of such a material would facilitate early stage evaluation of these drag reduction technologies.
The objective of the Phase I and Phase II program is to refine the elastomeric balance design, characterize the performance of the balance, and evolve the model mounted balance concept into a productive research tool. The result should be an experimental tool that can be used to evaluate drag reduction technologies in a variety of bench-top settings, on model components in wind tunnels, and eventually into flight testing. This device should be a valuable tool for the evaluation of a variety of drag reduction technologies. It is noted that this balance design may have applications outside of the aerodynamics community. Balances for hydrodynamics research into issues such as drag reduction of ship models, sedimentation and erosion around bridges, and biomedical research on insect locomotion have many of the same challenges as aerodynamics research. A balance design that allows high common mode rejection between channels and can be easily tuned for a particular application would be of value in those applications. ISSI is already working to develop a skin friction sensor for biomedical research, and integration of this balance design into that product is underway. We are also in discussion with several small wind tunnel manufactures as to the marketability of a six component balance for small academic wind tunnels.