NASA releases a lot of in-depth coverage about life in space, but sometimes, the simplest dispatches from orbit end up being the most powerful. For instance, check out this surreal new video of astronaut Scott Kelly experimenting with a bubbly ball of dyed water on the International Space Station (ISS). The water ball’s behavior was captured in 4K resolution on a high-definition Epic Dragon RED camera that was delivered to the ISS on a SpaceX cargo run earlier this year. These are the types of cameras that big Hollywood studios splurge on, so it’s no wonder that the liquid’s behavior is recorded in such minute detail.
“This is a huge leap in camera technology for spaceflight,” said Rodney Grubbs, program manager for NASA’s Imagery Experts Program, in a statement about the instrument. “These cameras have large sensors capable of very high resolution imaging at high frame rates. It is like having a high speed 35MM motion picture film camera, but it is compact, can use lenses we already have up there.”
The camera’s enhanced picture quality allows both scientists and casual viewers to closely observe the water’s reaction to the dyes and effervescent substances Kelly introduces to it. The intent is to investigate the dynamics of water surface tension in a micro-gravity environment, but the film works just as well as high-concept orbital art, especially given the video’s requisite spacey music.
To that point, it’s cool to know that the same cinematic technology used to film fictional space environments in blockbuster movies is finally being used by real astronauts in the ISS. While Ridley Scott communicated micro-gravity seamlessly in The Martian, NASA’s latest video proves there’s nothing like watching the real thing in HD.