Video: Record-Breaking Camera Captures Rocket Tests in Detail

12 August 2016

The HiDyRS-X camera records high-speed, high-dynamic-range footage in multiple exposures simultaneously and is intended to be used in analyzing rocket engine tests. Traditional high-speed video cameras are limited to shooting in one exposure at a time, but the HiDyRS-X can record multiple high- speed video exposures at once, and combine them into a high-dynamic-range video that exposes all areas of the image for analysis.

The camera recorded propulsion video data that has never before been seen in such detail.

Image of Space Launch System Qualification Motor 2 test or, QM-2, with HiDyRS-X camera. (Image Credit: NASA) Image of Space Launch System Qualification Motor 2 test or, QM-2, with HiDyRS-X camera. (Image Credit: NASA)

The HiDyRS-X project originated from a problem that researchers face while trying to film rocket motor tests. Rocket motor plumes are extremely bright, which makes them difficult to record without drastically cutting down the exposure settings on the camera. When the exposure is cut down, the rest of the image gets darkened and obscures other important components on the motor.

Typically video cameras record using one exposure at a time, but the new camera records multiple, slow- motion video exposures at once, for a “perfect” image.

When the team reviewed the camera footage shot in initial tests, they witnessed several elements never before caught on film in an engine test.

“I was amazed to see the ground-support mirror bracket tumbling and the vortices shedding in the plume,” said Howard Conyers, a structural dynamist at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

The team was able to gather interesting data from the slow-motion footage, and Conyers also discovered something else by speeding up the playback.

“I was able to clearly see the exhaust plume, nozzle and the nozzle fabric go through its gimbaling patterns, which is an expected condition, but usually unobservable in slow motion or normal playback rates,” Conyers added.

For more information about the camera, visit NASA.

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