"Caution, Wake Turbulence"
Seeing is believing and the dust raised by wingtip vortices is giving them away in a unique test at Denver International Airport. NASA and the FAA want to try predicting wake turbulence by listening for the wind it creates. The Wake Turbulence Research Program (WTRP) has installed a series of microphones at DEN and hopes to be able identify and characterize vortices (and hence their potential danger to following traffic) by collecting their sound signatures in varying conditions. But first they have to know what they're hearing and that's where something called the WindTracer Doppler Lidar comes in. The device, built by CLR Phototonics, of Louisville, Colo., is being used as the "ground truth sensor" for the WTRP experiment. By bouncing laser light off the dust particles swirling in the vortex, the WindTracer can tell the precise location of the wake. That information, in turn, is used to ensure the acoustic measurements are correctly interpreted. The goal of all this is to squeeze more airplanes into the approach to optimize airspace and runway use.