Fuel Droplet Burning in Space is Psychedelic, Man

Article written: 25 May , 2011
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015


Dude! This awesome image looks like a psychedelic 1970’s flashback. But is is actually a droplet of fuel burning in space, on board the International Space Station. NASA explains that because of the absence of gravity, fuels burning in space behave very differently than they do on Earth. The Flame Extinguishing Experiment on board the ISS is examining the combustion of such liquid fuel droplets, and in this image, a 3-millimeter diameter droplet of heptane fuel burns in microgravity, producing soot. When a bright, uniform backlight is placed behind the droplet and flame and recorded by a video camera, the soot appears as a dark cloud. Image processing techniques can then quantify the soot concentration at each point in the image.

NASA explains:

This colorized gray-scale image is a composite of the individual video frames of the backlit fuel droplet. The bright yellow structure in the middle is the path of the droplet, which becomes smaller as it burns. Initial soot structures (in green) tend to form near the liquid fuel. These come together into larger and larger particles which ultimately spiral out of the flame zone in long, twisting streamers.

Far out!

Source: NASA Image of the Day

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8 Responses

  1. EarthlingX says

    This image looks mirrored over the middle vertical. Any idea why ?

    It’s totally awesome image and on my disk anyway 🙂

    • Flaming Pope says

      look closer, there are differences in the fringing (to be expected due to fluid/quantum effects, but net effect takes hold in large scale). its just like galaxies, how could galaxies be so symmetric, yet have diameters of thousands of light years across?

      beauty of physics at work.

    • Torbjörn Larsson says

      Because it looks better?

      • squidgeny says

        Possibly, but it’s confusing. We’re missing out on what’s happening on the other side of the droplet… or is that a solid surface?

      • Yes, I agree… I’d rather see the ‘actual’ representation of the phenomenon initially, to appreciate the science and THEN, if I choose, to see a stylized version for the ‘o-o-o’ effect.

  2. Tom Harris says

    Looks like an Acid Mothers Temple album cover…

  3. Anonymous says

    Show me the video! 🙂

  4. Member
    Aqua4U says

    Now THAT would make a great ‘Burning Man’ at the Psychic deli….

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