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Daily archives "August 9, 2016"

2 Articles

Beauty in controlled explosions

Animation of footage from NASA's HiDyRS-X camera. Footage grabbed from official NASA video.

Animation of footage from NASA’s HiDyRS-X camera. Footage grabbed from official NASA video.

A few days ago, NASA released a video of their successful solid rocket booster test – dubbed QM-2 – showcasing the capabilities of their new High Dynamic Range Stereo X (HiDyRS-X) camera.

Normally, a camera’s exposure settings are configured to get detail in either the brightest areas, or in the darker areas, of a subject. This would force one to decide between capturing valuable visual data in one area, while effectively ignoring visual data in another. Or setting up redundant equipment, with each composed to capture different types of detail. Neither situation is optimal, and can lead to costly equipment deployments.

HiDyRS-X, though, can capture both simultaneously. The three-minute video clearly shows detail in the booster’s blindingly bright exhaust plume, while still decently exposing the aft end of the booster itself – something that would normally be difficult, if not impossible, to do with a single device. HiDyRS-X is able to capture both bright and dark areas concurrently, and combine them into a single high dynamic range (HDR) video. The results are quite incredible.

NASA was not the only one to release unconventional footage of their hardware in action. SpaceX produced a montage video, replete with a suitably techno soundtrack, of some slow-motion shots of their Falcon 9 rocket in various stages of its flight, and landing, profile.

Both videos are outstanding, and show the power and beauty in some of mankind’s powerful creations.

Close-up of the aft end of the Falcon 9's first stage, with a single Merlin 1D under power, as it comes in for a landing. Credit: SpaceX

Close-up of the aft end of the Falcon 9’s first stage, with a single Merlin 1D under power, as it comes in for a landing. Credit: SpaceX

Lockheed Martin signs contract with NASA to launch ‘SkyFire’ CubeSat

Artist's depiction of SkyFire in lunar proximity. Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

Artist’s depiction of SkyFire in lunar proximity. Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin has signed a contract with NASA to launch and deploy its 6U SkyFire CubeSat on the agency’s maiden launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) in 2018 in an effort to increase our understanding of Earth’s closest neighbor.

Though destinations beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) are normally the domain of much larger spacecraft, SkyFire will launch as a secondary payload on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) and take advantage of the larger vehicle’s ability to ferry the smaller CubeSat to lunar vicinity.

SkyFire’s lunar flyby will pioneer brand new infrared technology, enabling scientists to fill strategic gaps in lunar knowledge that have implications for future human space exploration,” said John Ringelberg…

Read the full story in my post at SpaceFlight Insider.