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Propulsion System Analysis:
NASA Glenn Research Center's Aeronautics Propulsion

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Subject Area: Mathematics and Technology

Grade Level: 9-12

National Standards:

  • Use and value the connections between mathematics and other disciplines.
  • Construct and draw inferences from charts, tables, and graphs that summarize data from real-world situations.


  • Technology Research Tools - Select and apply technology tools for research, information analysis, problem-solving, and decision-making in content learning.
  • Technology Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools - Routinely and efficiently use on-line information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications, communications, and productivity.


  • After reading the explanation given below, use the World Wide Web to access additional information needed to complete the activities on the forces on an airplane, the function of the stabilizer, and the calculation of Mach speed, temperature, pressure, and thrust at different altitudes and speeds.
  • Use graphs to observe trends and draw conclusions.
  • Using an aircraft design package found on the World Wide Web, design an aircraft to fly non-stop from San Francisco to New York with the goal of having as low a ticket price as possible.

Propulsion Systems Analysis ( is the division of NASA Glenn Research Center that explores, through computer programs and mathematical analyses, the overall performance and economic potential of advanced and unconventional propulsion systems of subsonic, supersonic, and hypersonic vehicles. For aircraft and aircraft propulsion systems analysis, the "desired end" is obtaining the best performance with the least weight and the least cost.

The Beginner's Guide to Propulsion is a Web site of information prepared at NASA Glenn Research Center to help you better understand how aircraft propulsion systems work. You will access several of these slides for background information on the effects of altitude on engine performance. You will also learn how to calculate the Mach Number for subsonic and supersonic airplanes.

To begin the activity, click on Propulsion System Analysis Activities.


You, or you and your partner(s), will be evaluated on the feasibility of your answers.


You will be able to use the Internet to find additional information needed to complete the activities on aircraft propulsion and calculating Mach number, temperature, pressure, and thrust at different altitudes. You will use graphs to observe trends and draw conclusions.

Submitted by: Jim Munchick, Olmsted Falls City Schools, Olmsted Falls, Ohio

Related Pages:
Propulsion Activity Index
Propulsion Index


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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Thu, May 13 02:38:25 PM EDT 2021

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