NASA has successfully tested a camera that uses multiple frames of different exposures to create HDR video. The demo of a rocket test shows that the dynamic range provided is enough to capture plumes of exhaust fire and the surrounding area at the same time. The High Dynamic Range Stereo X, or HiDyRS-X, camera is capable of recording a collection of different exposures using very high frame rates which it then combines to create individual frames of HDR video – in 3D.

The idea is to be able to capture the extremely wide range of brightness values during a rocket test so that the rocket itself and the flames of the plume can be seen and studied simultaneously – not something that traditional capture methods can do.

NASA says that the trial, using the Space Launch System Qualification Motor 2 test, allowed its scientists to study elements and behaviors they had not been able to see before. As with many critical moments in photography things didn’t go completely smoothly for the photography team during the unrepeatable engine test. The camera’s automatic timer failed to start the recording so the team had to intervene manually, and then the vibrations of the rocket itself caused the camera’s power cable to fall out.

The HiDyRS-X camera was developed as a part of a scheme to allow young engineers to come up with concepts and lead projects to create new hardware to help with NASA’s space programs. The project won one of the Early Career Initiative grants in 2015 and was led by structural dynamist Howard Conyers from the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi.

For more information on the camera and the test visit the NASA website.