A data analysis method based on the linear least-squares (LLS) method was developed for the extraction of high-resolution skin friction fields from global luminescent oil film (GLOF) visualization images of a surface in an aerodynamic flow. In this method, the oil film thickness distribution and its spatiotemporal development are measured by detecting the luminescence intensity of the thin oil film. From the resulting set of GLOF images, the thin oil film equation is solved to obtain an ensemble-averaged (steady) skin friction field as an inverse problem. In this paper, the formulation of a discrete linear system of equations for the LLS method is described, and an error analysis is given to identify the main error sources and the relevant parameters. Simulations were conducted to evaluate the accuracy of the LLS method and the effects of the image patterns, image noise, and sample numbers on the results in comparison with the previous snapshot-solution-averaging (SSA) method. An experimental case is shown to enable the comparison of the results obtained using conventional oil flow visualization and those obtained using both the LLS and SSA methods. The overall results show that the LLS method is more reliable than the SSA method and the LLS method can yield a more detailed skin friction topology in an objective way.
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