NASA’s HDR camera captures a stunning new look at its rocket booster

Rocket blast are loud, bright and, well, anything but subtle. That’s the whole point, really. It takes a heck of a lot of firepower to slip the surly bonds of earth and dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings (I’m told). Of course, such explosiveness is tough to shoot with a standard camera. So NASA did the NASA thing and built a camera capable of capturing the subtle complexity of the fiery burst.

The HiDyRS-X camera was created by members of NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Early Career Initiative, a program designed to give fresh-faced engineers the opportunity to work on big projects with more experienced peers.

The high-tech camera stitches together multiple slow exposures shot simultaneously to create some truly high dynamic range video, capturing the rocket booster without getting blown out by the bright lights. NASA rolled the camera out for a recent test of its Qualification Motor 2 booster in Promontory, Utah, and the results are seriously breathtaking.

A silent three-minute video of the test is mesmerizing, and, frankly, unreal, purpleish clouds pulsate and swirl across the vibrating landscape. The test was the largest scale of its kind of the camera, “several orders of magnitude” more intense than what the team had shot before, but the camera clearly did its job, capturing previously unseen elements of the rocket blast.

via The Verge