NASA’s High Dynamic Range Stereo X camera, in short HiDyRS-X, has captured an amazing footage of an extremely powerful rocket booster during a routine fire test. The camera was able to record the bright fire plume in such great detail that the resulting footage seemed like a CG artwork.
The 3-minute video, which was released late last week, shows one of the solid rocket engines that will be used in NASA’s monster Space Launch System rocket designed to take humans to Mars and other deep-space targets.
NASA engineers explained that the SLS needs two of these 170-foot-tall boosters to get into space. Each rocket engine is able to burn 5.5 tons of fuel per second to generate 3.6 million pounds worth of thrust.
However, it is the first time a rocket engine fire test is captured in such great detail. Researchers said that they needed a special camera because fire plumes are unusually bright. In normal cases, camera operators can either focus on the plume and leave everything else around it in the dark or they can focus on the surroundings which deprives the plume of any detail due to its brightness.
The new NASA slow motion camera has just solved the dilemma since it can capture all details of an image in one shot. HiDyRS-X operators explained that the new tool is different from regular slow-motion cameras. Unlike, common cameras, the HiDyRS-X can capture more than just an exposure at a time.
Next the instrument mixes multiple exposures into a single HDR footage that looks as if it was created with state-of-the-art CG technology. On the other hand, the new camera is far from perfect. Even though the untrained eye may not notice something unusual, NASA operators said that the fire test video includes some failings.
For instance, because of a faulty camera timer the team was not able to capture the first moments of the rocket ignition. Even though, one researcher was able to turn on the manual override switch, the tremendous pressure coming from the rocket engine blocked the camera’s power supply.
One of the NASA operators Howard Conyers said he was ‘bummed’ about the mishaps. Still, Conyers acknowledged that the less-than-perfect footage of the booster clearly shows that the camera is functional.
He also added that the failures are opportunities to “get smarter” until the SLS’ first test flight in 2018.
Image Source: Pixabay