Skip to main content

Space History Photo: NACA Physicist Studying Alpha Rays

space history, NACA, radiation
A NACA Physicist studying alpha rays in a continuous cloud chamber.
(Image: © Bill Bowles.)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, NACA Physicits studying Alpha Rays in a continuous cloud chamberon Sept. 12, 1957. A cloud chamber is used by Lewis scientists to obtain information aimed at minimizing undesirable effects of radiation on nuclear-powered aircraft components.

Here, alpha particles from a polonium source emit in a flower-like pattern at the cloud chamber's center. The particles are made visible by means of alcohol vapor diffusing from an area at room temperature to an area at minus -78 deg. Centigrade. Nuclear-powered aircraft were never developed and aircraft nuclear propulsion systems were canceled in the early 1960s.

The National Advisory Committe on Aeronautics (NACA) was a precursor to NASA. NACA was created by Congress in 1915.

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.