PetaPixel

How NASA Modifies the Nikon D2Xs DSLR for Space

Ever wonder what the bulky white coverings NASA uses on its DSLRs is for? Popular Photography sent the agency some questions regarding its use of the Nikon D2Xs, and found out some interesting details about astronaut photo gear:

The equipment under the thermal blanket is a Nikon SB-800 flash in a custom housing that is used during a spacewalk (EVA). The flash needed a special housing because it will not work properly in the vacuum of space. The housing holds air pressure so that the flash will function properly. There is also a bracket on the bottom (covered with a white thermal blanket) that the camera and flash mount to.

[...] The D2Xs used for flight has the same firmware modifications and a lubricant modification. Other than that it is the same as buying it from the store.

They also state that because of the damage inflicted on the camera sensors by the radiation in space, sometimes the cameras are only used on one mission before too many pixels are destroyed for them to be used again.

How Does NASA Get a Nikon D2Xs DSLR Ready to Go to Space? [PopPhoto]


 
 
  • Anonymous

    So maybe the Kodak guy was right about air freight damaging camera sensors?

  • http://www.casagli.com Alessandro Casagli

    Evidently changing the sensor is unconcievable.

  • Lee Vy

    Hey Nikon, if you can modify the firmware for NASA why can’t you let paying customers have the the option to modify their cameras? You’re worse than Apple in this regard. SET THE FIRMWARE FREE

  • http://twitter.com/Seshan Seshan

    That’s what I was thinking.

  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    apples and oranges, you can not compare airline flight to an EVA

  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    apples and oranges, you can not compare airline flight to an EVA

  • Anonymous

    You’re right, but one does still get a considerably higher dose of cosmic rays at 35,000ft than on the ground, where you lose a large fraction of the protective atmosphere.

  • Dnguyen

    dose to start to damage a cmos sensor: 600 Gy
    dose to kill you: 5 Gy
    dose the pilots receive per year: 0.003 Gy

  • Dnguyen

    dose to start to damage a cmos sensor: 600 Gy
    dose to kill you: 5 Gy
    dose the pilots receive per year: 0.003 Gy

  • Anonymous

    I guess something’s amiss.  The guys from NASA say they’ve had to shelve cameras because of cosmic ray damage, but they’ve not had astronauts die due to cosmic rays.

  • Mike D

    Astronauts are shielded by their suits. The camera is out in space unprotected. Don’t forget that one of the functions of an EVA suit is radiation protection.

  • Mike D

    Astronauts are shielded by their suits. The camera is out in space unprotected. Don’t forget that one of the functions of an EVA suit is radiation protection.

  • Anonymous

    I am skeptical that the space suit can shield that well from radiation that can damage a sensor, using those figures.  I think the 600 Gy and 5 Gy figures are way off, especially when stage laser light can damage a camera sensor, which is far lower energy than cosmic rays.  Heck, why not protect the camera with the same kind of radiation shielding?

  • Anonymous

    I am skeptical that the space suit can shield that well from radiation that can damage a sensor, using those figures.  I think the 600 Gy and 5 Gy figures are way off, especially when stage laser light can damage a camera sensor, which is far lower energy than cosmic rays.  Heck, why not protect the camera with the same kind of radiation shielding?

  • Anonymous

    I am skeptical that the space suit can shield that well from radiation that can damage a sensor, using those figures.  I think the 600 Gy and 5 Gy figures are way off, especially when stage laser light can damage a camera sensor, which is far lower energy than cosmic rays.  Heck, why not protect the camera with the same kind of radiation shielding?

  • Amando96

    Wonder if I can get a used camera for free sent to my door? if they don’t need it…

  • A. Lurker

    Perhaps NASA can arrange to de-orbit one into your back yard!