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SuperSim Version 1.6g


This is a beta 1.6g version of the SuperSim simulation program, and you are invited to participate in the beta testing. This simulation is provided by the Supersonics Project within NASA's Fundamental Aero Program. The simulation is continually being debugged, updated, and additional problems will be included based on user inputs and requirements from the project. If you find errors in the program or would like to suggest improvements, please send an e-mail to

Due to IT security concerns, many users are currently experiencing problems running NASA Glenn educational applets. The applets are slowly being updated, but it is a lengthy process. If you are familiar with Java Runtime Environments (JRE), you may want to try downloading the applet and running it on an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) such as Netbeans or Eclipse. The following are tutorials for running Java applets on either IDE:


With this software you can investigate several fundamental problems that occur in supersonic flow. The simulator models supersonic flow past a wedge, or a cone, the supersonic flow that leaves a jet nozzle, and the internal design of high speed nozzles using the method of characteristics. Depending on the Mach number and the size of object, attached oblique shocks, or detached normal shocks are formed at the leading edge of the object. You can study this flow by interactively changing the values of different input parameters.

There are several different software packages available at the Beginner's Guide to Compressible Flow to study supersonic flow problems. This page includes an on-line user's manual which describes the various options available in the program and includes hyperlinks to other pages describing the math and science details. This software is intended for college students or professionals working with compressible flows. More experienced users can select a version of the program which does not include these instructions and loads faster on your computer. There are other special programs available at this site which solve for flow past a supersonic cone and a supersonic wedge. There is also a special program to solve for multiple shock waves with shock reflections and intersections. The multiple shock program also solves for Prandtl-Meyer expansions which occur when the flow is turned into an expanding region.

If you see only a grey box at the top of this page, be sure that Java is enabled in your browser. If Java is enabled, and you are using the Windows XP operating system, you need to get a newer version of Java. Go to this link:, try the "Download It Now" button, and then select "Yes" when the download box pops up. If you experience difficulties when using the sliders to change variables, simply click away from the slider and then back to it. If the arrows on the end of the sliders disappear, click in the areas where the left and right arrow images should appear, and they should reappear.


This program is designed to be interactive, so you have to work with the program. You choose a particular flow problem by clicking on the white choice button near the middle of the program, below the graphic. You can currently (Apr, 2014) choose

  1. Flow past a single wedge.
  2. Taylor-Maccoll flow past a cone.
  3. Shock-on-shock interactions.
  4. Centered Prandtl-Meyer expansions.
  5. External compressions inlets.
  6. Shock diamonds from the exit of a nozzle.
  7. Preliminary 2D nozzle design using method of characteristics (MOC).
  8. Preliminary axisymmetric nozzle design using MOC.
You make a selection by clicking the mouse in the choice box, and high-lighting your choice in the drop-down menu. The value of flow variables are presented to you in boxes. By convention, a white box with black numbers is an input box and you can change the value of the number. To change the value in an input box, select the box by moving the cursor into the box and clicking the mouse, then backspace over the old number, enter a new number, then hit the Enter key on your keyboard. You must hit Enter to send the new value to the program. For most input variables you can also use a slider located next to the input box. Click on the slider bar, hold down and drag the slider bar to change values, or you can click on the arrows at either end of the slider. A black box with green, cyan, or yellow numbers is an output box and the value is computed by the program. There are some choices which you must make regarding the display of computed results by using a buttons. Click on the button to make your selection. A yellow button indicates the current selection.


The program screen is divided into three main parts:

  1. At the top of the screen is a graphic of the problem that you are studying.
  2. On the lower left side of the screen is the input panel.
  3. On the lower right side of the screen are the results of the calculations.


On the graphics display, supersonic flow is from left to right. The geometry is shown in red. Oblique shock waves are drawn as blue lines. Normal shocks are colored magenta. Expansion fans are shown in red or black. For the conical flow problem, flow variables are constant along rays of a cone starting at the leading edge. The rays are shown in blue. You can choose to display the values of the flow variables for a particular ray on the output panel. The ray that you choose is shown in red on the graphics panel. Streamlines from upstream and flowing through the shock waves are shown in black.

If the MOC rays look chaotic, you have a grid resolution problem. Increasing the number of rays on the input panel will normally solve this problem.


Numerical input to the program is entered at the lower left. You can specify the free stream Mach number by using either the input box or the slider. You can also specify the angles for the wedge or cone. The gamma variable is the ratio of specific heats of the gas. Additional input depends on the particular problem being simulated.


Numerical output from the program is displayed at the lower right. The output for the conical flow is displayed by Rays, with each ray beginning at the tip of the cone. You select which ray to display by using the white and blue choice button. The output variables on the right are referenced to flow upstream of the shock, which are the free stream conditions. Mach below the Ray button is the Mach number on the surface of the cone. Mach to the right of the zone button is the Mach number along the selcted ray. Angle is the angle of the selected ray, while Turning is the total amount that the flow has been turned relative to free stream direction. Shock Angle is the angle of the shock wave. The static and total pressure ratio are listed, followed by the temperature and density ratios. For the cone, these values are calculated using the oblique or normal shock relations, followed by an isentropic compression to the ray Mach number. The ray Mach number is determined by the Taylor-Maccoll analysis, For the wedge problem, flow variable values are determined by the oblique or normal shock relations. For the nozzle design problems, you can select to display the geometry of the nozzle by using an input button.


Changes from previous versions of the program include:

  1. On 18 Apr 14 version 1.6g was released. This version of the program corrected some major problems with the axisymmetric nozzle MOC calculation.
  2. On 18 Nov 12 version 1.6f was released. This version of the program involved some re-organization and resizing of the output variables and the elimination of the planetary choice box for gamma.
  3. On 24 Feb 12 version 1.6d was released. This version of the program was the first release of the computer program. The version number reflects the fact that the program was derived from Version 1.3 of the multiple shock simulation. Versions 1.4-1.6c were developmental versions of the program and not released to the public.

Guided Tours


Button to Display Hypersonic Aero Index Button to Display Hi Speed Aero Index Button to Display Aerodynamics Index Button to Display Propulsion Index
NASA's Guide to Hypersonics
Beginner's Guide to Compressible Flow
Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics


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Editor: Nancy Hall
NASA Official: Nancy Hall
Last Updated: May 13 2021

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