STS-116 Sonic boom

STS-116 returned to Earth on December 22, 2006. During reentry the shuttle Discovery passed almost directly over Houston, Texas. Closest approach to Houston occurred at about 4:17 PM CST with landing in Florida occuring slightly more than 15 minutes later. Below is the path of Discovery across the Southern U.S. The image is cropped from one on the NASA spaceflight web site.

STS-116 entry groundtrack (3411 bytes)

The pass occurred during the late afternoon and none of our group was able to see the vehicle with the unaided eye. Since the vehicle passed so close to Houston, however, a sonic boom was heard a bit more than three minutes after the closest point of the pass. At closest approach, Discovery was 38 statute miles over the observing point.

Below is a sound file of the sonic boom as recorded by a friend with his MP3 player. The result has been converted to a wav file with a sample rate of 32KHz. The whine in the background is due a ventilation fan in a steam tunnel about 100' away. Some of the increased background noise at the end of the recording is due to people at an adjacent building showing their satisfaction with the sonic boom.

wav format (440,108 bytes)

A view of the waveform is shown in the graph below. The sonic boom is the conspicuous event in the middle of the plot. The peaks were clipped somewhat during the recording.

Waveform (4270 bytes)

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