New High-Speed Camera System Reveals What Snow Looks Like In Midair


Snowflakes falling on cameras

This is a collection of snowflakes photographed automatically as they fell at Alta, Utah, by the new Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera developed at the University of Utah. Credit: Tim Garrett, University of Utah



” These fluffy snowflakes, known as aggregates, form when snow crystals collide with other snow crystals. Many of these flakes also show some riming, or an icy coating. A new high-speed, three-camera system developed at the University of Utah made these pictures as the snowflakes fell.  University of Utah researchers developed a high-speed camera system that spent the past two winters photographing snowflakes in 3-D as they fell – and they don’t look much like those perfect-but-rare snowflakes often seen in photos.

With help from the University of Utah’s Technology Commercialization Office, Garrett and Cale Fallgatter – a 2008 master’s graduate in mechanical engineering – formed a spinoff company, Fallgatter Technologies, to make the new camera system, known as the MASC, for Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera, for which a patent is pending.

The device – under development for three years – includes three, industrial-grade, high-speed cameras: two 1.2-megapixel cameras and a 5-megapixel camera, plus two sets of two motion sensors to measure the speed of falling snowflakes. The 5-megapixel camera helps zoom in on single flakes, Fallgatter says.

The Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera has a ring-shaped housing measuring about 1 foot wide and roughly 4 inches tall. The three cameras are mounted on one side, each separated by 36 degrees and pointed toward the center.”








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