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By Lumistar's Chief Scientist

December 15, 2015

Christmas Shown From Space Using Infrared Process

Nasa Photo of Christmas Lights

New photos created from NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite, shows the extent of holiday light displays in the U.S. compared to the rest of the year. By comparing the light from the Christmas holiday with the rest of the year, the differential is extracted and shown on the map. Scientists found that nighttime lights around major U.S. cities shone 20 percent to 50 percent brighter around Christmas. Dark green in the key is used to indicate areas where lights have the largest gain mostly suburbs being 50 percent brighter in December. The images released were taken between 2012 and 2013 and include 70 American cities. The difference is most pronounced in suburbs and small towns where residents have bigger yards and bigger homes. Lights were brightest between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

The Suomi NPP weather satellite, launched in 2011, has a sounder infrared spectrometer named Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), and a scanning radiometer named Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). Since 1980, polar-orbiting weather satellites have included both imagers and sounders. These types of sensors record data continuously, using different wavelengths to infer information on a global scale.

The CrIS sounder infrared spectrometer is an instrument measuring temperature and water vapor as a function of different heights within the atmosphere. The scanner collects multiple spectral data via 1,305 separated spectral channels (sensors), internally separating infrared energy into wavelengths, similar to a weather balloon. CrIS produces high-resolution, three-dimensional temperature, pressure, and moisture profiles. These profiles are used to enhance weather forecasting models, and they will facilitate both short- and long-term weather forecasting.

The VIIRS uses radiometric and infrared imaging, thereby using a color pallet to ‘paint’ polarized heat images by assigning color to each heat temperature, which is the sole instrument used to create the above map. VIIRS collects visible and infrared imagery and radiometric measurements of the land, atmosphere, cryosphere, and oceans. VIIRS data is used to measure cloud and aerosol properties, ocean color, sea and land surface temperature, ice motion and temperature, fires, and Earth’s albedo. VIIRS can record infrared light even in the presence of clouds, moonlight and air particles.

Together VIIRS and CrIS combine infrared instruments and can determine cloud top height and thermodynamic phase (ice or water particles), and make estimates of microphysical and optical properties that indicate the amount of water and ice in the cloud layer. The Suomi NPP satellite is the result of a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Defense.

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June 15, 2015

Thermal Camera Observes Computer Hack Using Heat

Highly secure computer systems, referred to as “air-gapped systems”, are not connected to the internet or connected to other systems connected to the internet so their data can’t be hacked and stolen. These systems are used in military complexes, payment systems, or systems that control critical infrastructure, to name a few examples. But investigators have found a new way to hack into these systems — using heat. Researchers are also using thermal infrared cameras to observe the process (see above video). By having an infected computer that is connected to internet placed near the non-internet connected computer, for example, a laptop that goes home with a worker and returns to the office placing it near the air-gapped classified system, the internet hacker manipulates the laptop’s temperature in a pattern creating 0’s and 1’s communicating to the air-gapped system via it’s thermal sensor that is normally used for its cooling fan. At present time, the rate of information exchanged via heat signals back and forth is slow but information such as password transmission has been demonstrated. Researchers are determining if internet connected air conditioning systems can also communicate with these offline classified computers sometime in the future as this method develops.

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April 15, 2015

Police Gear Up To Watch Beaches With Thermal Imaging

As police departments become more militarized, Miami Beach’s officers will be prepared for Memorial Day weekend, locally known as ‘Urban Beach Week’, on a whole new level. Their equipment includes: multiple mobile cameras, 3 watchtowers, 62 light towers, 12 messaging boards, 18 stationary CCTV cameras (monitored throughout the city), multiple license plate readers (on the causeways to quickly scan for stolen vehicles or owners with outstanding felony warrants), 400 officers on duty around the clock, and ATV’s. What’s of interest to this blog is that they will have an all new light tactical all-terrain vehicle or “LTV”, which is a $140,000 vehicle similar to the ones used in the military. This highly advanced vehicle has a built in thermal imaging camera to patrol and detect heat signatures on the beach. Even in the dead of night, with zero light conditions, officers can see people on a small screen mounted inside the vehicle, detecting people as far as 3/4 of a mile away who are trespassing on the beach after hours, or other criminal activity. Officers liken a dark beach in Miami to a dark alley in New York City. [See video.]

Filed under: Business,Camera,Infrared,Lumistar,Technology,Thermal Imaging — Tags: , , , , — Lumistar @ 08:00

February 15, 2015

Humans Can See Infrared Light Thought Impossible

Lumistar - Blog - Infrared Vision

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, were able to get subjects to see in the infrared with the naked eye. Researchers used infrared laser beams (pure focused infrared beams) at different wavelengths to conduct their experiments. The key to their safety in these experiments and ultimately it’s usefulness in medicine was using a less powerful infrared laser beam, not one that can damage the retina like conventional laser pointers used in lecture halls or as toys.

There were reports in the past of humans could see infrared light in scientific literature during experiments, but they were unexplained and thus the myth remained human retinas were incapable of seeing ‘invisible’ infrared. For researchers at Washington U. to conduct their experiments, laser pulses of different duration were delivered with the same number of photons, defined as the particles that make up light whether visible or invisible like infrared. Their findings: if the infrared laser pulse was short enough to ‘stack’ the photons picked up by the photoreceptors in the retina, two photons hitting the retina instead of one, it caused the invisible wavelength to mimic a visible wavelength half it’s strength, becoming a wavelength visible to the naked eye. The key is to get the beam in the visible spectrum or the ‘rainbow’ which is in the 400-700 nanometer range. At near infrared (NIR) 1,000 nanometer wavelength, with two photon hits, it became a 500 nanometer photon thus in the visible wavelength range. By making the pulses short in order to bombard the retina the subjects didn’t see ‘pulses’ but instead saw a duration of light. In standard vision, only one photon is absorbed at a time by your photoreceptors on the back of the retina, which then create a molecule called a photpigment read by the nerves leading to the brain creating vision.  The benefit to all this is whereas using visible-wavelength lasers might damage the retina in potential medical treatments, this technology will develop new tools to examine the healthy eye by stimulating specific parts of the retina to see if it is properly functioning. By doing so doctors can learn more about our eye’s structure and function not only in healthy eyes but in people with retinal diseases such as macular degeneration.

In case you were wondering, all 30 volunteers described infrared as very short pulses of pale green light and longer pulses of reddish light.

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December 15, 2014

Thermal Imaging Shows Penguins’ Unusual Phenomena

Courtesy of Université de Strasbourg and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Strasbourg, France

Courtesy of Université de Strasbourg and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Strasbourg, France

Courtesy of Université de Strasbourg and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Strasbourg, France
After studying Emperor penguins using thermal imaging cameras, scientists from Glasgow University in Glasgow, UK discovered that these Antarctic birds keep warm by an unusual phenomena where temperatures can reach -40C. Studying penguins In the French-claimed sector of Antarctica named Adélie Land, scientists  discovered that penguin’s feathers or plumage are colder than that of the surrounding air. As a result thermal radiation, heat from the warm bodies is lost to the colder air, is minimized. Penguins, similar to humans at 37C, maintain core temperature of approximately 36.9C but only their eyes, beaks, and feet were warmer than the surrounding air, and only their eyes are above freezing. Similar to fighting fire with fire, Emperor penguins fight cold with cold. Thermal Imaging confirmed that penguins coats are four degrees Celsius colder than surrounding air. Penguins are able to accomplish this by having their coats face the upper atmosphere which is 20C colder than the surrounding air. For example, according to Glasgow scientists, a similar phenomenon can be observed if you park your car in the open on a cold night. Usually you will only find frost to have formed on the roof and windscreen but the sides do not ‘view’ the sky and therefore are radiating to relatively warmer surroundings. Penguins plumage is also so insulated it is equivalent to humans wearing two ski suits. Computer simulations confirmed their findings.

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October 15, 2014

Physicists Harvest Infrared Light Into Energy

Lumistar-Blog-Infrared Earth

Possibly as a future add-on to solar panels for harvesting energy at night, physicists at Harvard University have found a way to capture thermal infrared energy that escapes every night into space by the very act of allowing it to escape.  By using the principal of hot and cold differential to harness electrons into voltaic current, similar to how radioisotope thermoelectric nuclear batteries are used on artificial satellites, the thermal power generator would capture the infrared photonic energy with the use of a “hot” plate, as warm as the Earth, with a “cold” plate on top made from a material that would quickly radiate the thermal infrared electromagnetic photonic wavelengths back to the cold vacuum of space.  During a pilot study in Lamont, Oklahoma, the researchers have calculated that the heat difference between the plates could generate a few watts per square meter, day and night. This natural radiation happens every night with some of the infrared energy being trapped by our atmosphere to keep the planet from being as cold as space, thus named the greenhouse effect. With the sun bombarding the Earth with infrared heat that escapes every day and night continuously back to space this is clean energy that can eventually be used. Scientists hope to create a working model and become further efficient producing additional watts by using nanotechnology making efficiency possible.

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August 15, 2014

Thermal Cameras Catch Heat During Social Interactions


Using thermal imaging cameras, researchers at the University of St Andrews (St Andrews, UK) Perception Lab, have found that when heterosexual women interact socially with men, it causes a noticeable rise in the temperature of their faces. University scientists studied temperature changes in only women for this report.  The study was conducted to see if interpersonal social contact can elicit facial temperature changes as studies in the past dealt with other forms of emotional arousal such as fear and stress. Thermal responses were measured using a thermal imager with thermal sensitivity (NETD): less than 80 mK, 1 frame per 75 s. Object emissivity was set at 0.98, the standard value for skin. Infrared images were taken during a standardized interaction with a same- and opposite-sex experimenter using skin contact in a number of potentially high–intimate (face and chest) and low–intimate (arm and palm) locations. When peer-aged male laboratory agents touched heterosexual female participants on the face or chest the test subjects showed major (more than one degree Celsius) temperature responses on the face. What was surprising is that women’s facial temperature increased by one degree Celsius during any interaction with the male experimenter, using the thermal camera to record the observation. When other women laboratory agents did the tests on these same women subjects,  gender alone influenced the reaction of women, who showed no thermal response to interaction with other women.  Researchers hope to use this data to eventually develop a lie detector test for national security purposes. Studies show increases in temperature occur on the forehead when lying. “Thermal imaging offers new possibilities in the study of psychological responses to social interactions and is of particular interest in the context of mating signals.” Or maybe it will be used by social networks if infrared seeking cameras are incorporated into computing devices like your phone as a standard feature.

More information on the research can be found here.

June 15, 2014

Infrared Camera Helps Analyze Parts At Over Mach 5

Lumistar Corp Mach 5

Manchester University (Manchester, UK) researchers are using a thermal imaging camera to examine the performance of aerospace components in a wind tunnel. The knowledge gained by the wind tunnel tests will help designers of high-speed aircraft and re-entry space vessels that need to bring payloads to orbit and return to Earth.  The wind tunnel at the university is one of the few experimental facilities in Europe that can reach Mach numbers higher than 5. According to Professor Konstantinos Kontis, head of the Aerospace Research Group at Manchester University , the prolonged exposure to friction induced heat caused by the air flowing across the surface of an aircraft traveling at Mach 5 can be detrimental to the structural integrity of the material used in aircraft components. It is therefore important to test such components extensively before they are deployed in the field.

To capture thermal maps of the entire surface of the parts under test in the wind tunnel, the thermal imaging camera which contains an uncooled microbolometer detector that produces thermal images at a thermal sensitivity of 50mK (0.05°C), is located on top of the test chamber, looking in through a protective housing. This allows the camera to accurately map the thermal hot spots caused by the air friction, without being subjected to the force of high velocity air-flows. The full resolution can be captured at a frame rate of 50 fps, but it also provides high-speed windowing modes that allow the operator to increase the frame rate to 200 fps. The captured thermal footage along with it’s radiometric temperature data is analyzed with specialized software. “We use it to capture the data, define special regions of interest and export the temperature measurement strings to third party software for an in-depth analysis of the data,” says Dr. Erdem. On one end of the wind tunnel there is a chamber capable of containing pressurized air up to 15 bar, 15 times Earth’s regular atmospheric air pressure. At the other end is a vacuum tank which is brought to 1 milibar, one thousandth of regular atmospheric air pressure. In between the two is the test chamber where the test object is placed. As the pressurized air travels from the pressure chamber into the vacuum chamber, it passes the test object with a speed of about 6,000 kilometer per hour, similar to traveling at Mach 6 or approximately four thousand miles per hour at 50,000 feet (flight level 50), the highest altitude at which planes don’t lose air density. Velocity at sea level to obtain Mach 6 is 3,147 miles per hour. The difference in the velocity at different altitudes is due to the fact that the earth is spherical, so the amount of speed needed to cover a certain distance of the earth’s surface at a low altitude, is a lot lower than the amount needed to cover the same distance of the earth’s surface at a very high altitude.

April 15, 2014

Lumistar Proves to be #1 Leader in Shredder Cameras

Why A High Quality Shredder Camera?
Shredder operators operate their shredder ‘blind,’ due to steam, darkness and view obstruction. Operators often rely on vibration, RPM, and amp gauges to determine if they are about to jam or choke the shredder infeed. Frequently, out of fear, operators consistently underfeed in order to avoid jamming therefore losing valuable time and money. In the November 2013 issue of  the American Recycler, in an article entitled “Metal Shredders Face Stiff Competition”, Frank Goulding, member of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Shredder Committee for ISRI, reported:

“His [Goulding’s] shredders are running at roughly 60 percent capacity. They are focusing on lowering cost of production, trying to lean-out the cost of operating shredders and getting down the cost per ton. [He] is focusing on labor and practices, managing energy, looking at wear parts, evaluating equipment they are using to feed and support the shredder, looking downstream at other ways to separate metals and recovering more nonferrous from the residue.”

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