Aerospace, Articles | April 17, 2023

Capturing Combustion: High-Speed Cameras for Aerospace Applications

Have you ever wondered what happens when you ignite a matchstick, press the gas pedal or launch a rocket into space? These are all examples of combustion and thrust, two fascinating phenomena that happen in just a fraction of a second. Fortunately, modern technology has given us high-speed cameras capable of capturing these unseen events in stunning detail. In this blog post, we’ll explore how scientists use high-speed cameras to analyze combustion and thrust with precision and accuracy. 

Introduction: What are High-Speed Cameras?

High-speed cameras are designed to capture fast events that would be otherwise invisible to the human eye. These events could include a rocket engine firing, a bullet piercing a target, or water droplets colliding. High-speed cameras are used in a variety of fields, such as scientific research, engineering, manufacturing, and entertainment. 

High-speed cameras typically have a high frame rate, which is the number of images that are captured per second. The faster the event being captured, the higher the frame rate needs to be in order to slow down the event so it can be analyzed. For example, Chronos high-speed cameras have been used to observe and study rocket launches such as the Masten Space System Launch in conjunction with the University of Florida.

Benefits of High-Speed Cameras in Aerospace Applications

High-speed cameras are a valuable tool for analyzing the performance of aerospace propulsion systems. By capturing high-quality images at very high frame rates, they can provide detailed information about the behavior of thrust and combustion in these systems.

In addition to providing detailed data about the performance of propulsion systems, high-speed cameras can also be used to investigate other aspects of aerospace engineering. For example, they can be used to study the aerodynamic characteristics of wings and airfoils, or to examine the effects of wind and turbulence on aircraft structures.

Different Types of High-Speed Cameras and Their Applications

Different types of high-speed cameras have different applications in analyzing thrust and combustion. For example, a monochrome Chronos camera has a light sensitivity between 740-16000 ISO for lower light applications. Whereas a colour Chronos camera has between 320-8000 ISO. For dynamic combustion events, external lighting isn’t typically an issue as the subject has a high illumination. In these instances, full colour, high-resolution imagery can be faithfully captured in great detail with the Chronos cameras.

Considerations When Choosing a High-Speed Camera for Aero Analysis

There are a few key considerations to keep in mind when for aero analysis. The first is the frame rate. It’s recommended choosing a camera that can capture at least 1,000 frames per second. The second consideration is resolution. The higher the resolution, the more detail you’ll be able to see in your footage. For aero analysis, you’ll want a camera that offers a variety of frame rates and resolutions to accommodate different events. Often there is a tradeoff with frame rates and resolution.  Finally, consider the price. High-speed cameras can be expensive, so be sure to choose one that fits your budget such as the Chronos high-speed camera which offers the most affordable camera on the market in terms of frame rates and resolution.

How to Use a High-Speed Camera for Thrust and Combustion Analysis

When analyzing thrust and combustion, high-speed cameras are an essential tool for capturing data that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. By recording at extremely high frame rates, these cameras can provide detailed information about the behavior of fast-moving objects and phenomena.

There are a variety of ways to use high-speed cameras for thrust and combustion analysis. One common method is to record the exhaust plume of a rocket engine in order to study the flow of hot gases during combustion. This data can be used to optimize the design of future engines.

Another way to use high-speed cameras is to record the shock diamonds that form in the exhaust plume of a supersonic engine. This information can be used to study how well the engine is performing and identify potential problems.

Finally, high-speed cameras can also be used to capture images of fuel droplets during combustion. These images can be used to study the burning process and develop more efficient fuel mixtures.


High-speed cameras have revolutionized the way engineers analyze thrust and combustion, allowing scientists to capture images of events that were previously very challenging to observe. From capturing jet engines to recording the rapid expansion of flame in an internal combustion engine, high-speed cameras are enabling us to gain insight into how aerospace combustion works like never before. With the use of these powerful tools, we can unlock greater levels of efficiency and performance from existing propulsion systems – paving the way for a future filled with faster and more efficient aerospace applications.

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