Sending rockets up into space is an expensive process which is why it is incredibly heartbreaking to see when sometimes rockets fail to launch, or something goes wrong halfway. While there could be a number of reasons why rockets fail to take off or fail halfway, NASA has recently decided to employ the use of pressure-sensitive paints.
According to NASA and why they chose to use the paint for their rocket tests, “Both aircraft and spacecraft must be designed to withstand these dynamic forces, called buffeting, or risk being shaken to pieces. The pressure data are visualized as colors (red: higher-than-average pressure; blue: lower-than-average pressure), and represent the moments before the rocket reaches supersonic speeds.”
As the agency points out on their website, pressure-sensitive paint has actually been used before in small research tunnels, but it was only recently that the Air Force convinced the NASA Ames team, led by Jim Ross and Jayanta Panda, that the paint could also be used on a larger scale.
The paint works by reacting with oxygen to produce light. What happens is that with the different changes in the paint, scientists and researchers can now visualize where the changing forces are being applied on the rocket as it accelerates.