By Andrew Liszewski
Popular Photography has a brief, but interesting, interview with someone at NASA regarding how a DSLR needs to be specially prepped before it can be blasted into orbit and used on a spacewalk. Most noticeable in the photo above, featuring a camera used for astronaut training, is a white shroud surrounding the flash. It turns out that’s apparently pretty important since the flash won’t fire in the vacuum of space if left completely exposed:
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.
And, while the cameras do return to Earth after a space flight (instead of simply being jettisoned to lighten the Shuttle’s (RIP) load) they don’t always return to active duty after inspections. Apparently the unshielded radiation of space does quite a number on their sensors.