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NASA's tiny glowing plane shows the future of flight in fluorescent oil

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NASA built a toy-sized model of a hybrid wing plane, coated it in fluorescent oil, and put it in an ultra-fast wind tunnel. Why? Because it's a federally funded center housing some of the world's brightest minds, and that's the kind of thing it gets to do.

This image shows a 5.8 percent scale model of one of NASA's plane prototypes coated with a glow-in-the-dark liquid before being blasted with air. The patterns the liquid takes informs scientists of the plane's profiles of lift and drag, and shows how efficient a flight it's capable of.

NASA has been particularly focused on that flight efficiency in recent years. The agency has partnered with companies such as Boeing to create new aeronautic designs that aim to make long-haul flying cheaper and more comfortable. The fact that they've produced a mesmerizing, psychedelic image in the process is just a bonus on the way to faster, easier air travel.