Flames of fire act differently in space than they do on Earth. Researchers at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland study how ventilation, velocity, speed direction, oxygen concentration and pressure affect the spread of a flame in a microgravity environment.
Microgravity combustion research at Glenn not only provides insights into spacecraft fire safety, but it has also been used to create award-winning art images. This image won first place in the 2011 Combustion Art Competition, held at the 7th U.S. National Combustion Meeting.
This piece of artwork is comprised of multiple overlays of three separate microgravity flame images. Each image is of flame spread over cellulose paper in a spacecraft ventilation flow in microgravity. The different colors represent different chemical reactions within the flame. The blue areas are caused by chemiluminescence (light produced by a chemical reaction.) The white, yellow and orange regions are due to glowing soot at the different black body temperatures within the flame zone.
The artist created the artwork to resemble an exploding star viewed through a telescope; looking down the barrel of a flame exhaust plume from an exotic fuel nozzle; the jump to light speed; or going to warp. The flame images were captured during drop tower testing in Glenn's Zero Gravity Research Facility or Japan's Microgravity Center.
Image Credit: NASA