Nasa Camera Was Not Burned By Falcon Rocket... Directly

Nasa camera post Falcon launch.jpg
(photo by NASA and Bill Ingalls)

A few weeks ago the photo above went viral. The camera owned by NASA Photographer Bill Ingalls was used to capture the May 22nd Space X Falcon rocket launch and the entire world assumed that the heat emanating off the rocket's boosters was so intense that it completely melted the camera. 

But that's not what happened.

The camera actually melted because the Falcon's massive rockets caused a grass fire that then surrounded Mr. Ingalls' gear. Had there been more attention paid to the grounds around the launch site the camera and lens would be just fine. Ingalls, who's been taking photos for NASA for over thirty years, had this to say in a quote from NASA's website:

"I had six remotes, two outside the launch pad safety perimeter and four inside," said Ingalls. "Unfortunately, the launch started a grass fire that toasted one of the cameras outside the perimeter."

Here's the bizarre part. The four cameras that he set up inside the perimeter, closest to the rocket survived without a scratch, while the camera that was the furthest away from the launch is the one that melted. In fact, it was this far away. 

bill ingalls nasa tripod set up.jpg
(Photo by NASA and Bill Ingalls)

His memory card survived the fire and they were able to create this gif of the fire starting and then spreading towards the camera and finally melting the outside of it. 

Bill Ingalls NASA fire gif.gif
No one was hurt luckily as Bill and NASA are smart enough to set up the cameras remotely and not be anywhere near it when the launch happens because things like this are the contingency you need to plan for when shooting. 

Let this be a lesson to you for when you're out shooting in an area that could be dangerous, and have mountain lions or landslides or anything that could ruin your day... use a remote or bring a buddy.

Source: NASA