Microgravity Flames


Fire acts differently in space than on Earth. This 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 within the flame zone.

This microgravity combustion research was performed at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.  Understanding microgravity combustion provides insights into spacecraft fire safety.

flaming star created from microgravity flame imagesImage Credit: NASA

This image was created by Sandra Olson, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Glenn Research Center.  The image won first place in the 2011 Combustion Art Competition, held at the 7th U.S. National Combustion Meeting. 

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