NASA has developed a special camera that lets you actually see the details of a fiery plume emanating from a space rocket. In the past, cameras have a hard time adjusting their exposure to something so intense, so all you often see is an overexposed jet of fire.
Scientists tested the new HiDyRS-X camera, which can record multiple exposures at the same time, during a recent test of the the Space Launch System's boosters and the results are mesmerizing:
Per NASA, the team working on the test saw things they had never seen before while filming an engine test:
"'I was amazed to see the ground support mirror bracket tumbling and the vortices shedding in the plume,' [Howard Conyers, a structural dynamist at NASA's Stennis Space Center] says. 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.'"
Just for comparison, this is what footage from a rocket normally looks like: