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By Lumistar's Chief Scientist

June 15, 2013

Thermal Imaging Finds Hidden Boston Bomber

Massachusetts State Police released video taken of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s hiding spot after he was discovered in a boat parked in a Watertown, Mass. backyard. The boat’s owner was the first to find Tsnarnaev in the boat after going outside to smoke when the citywide lock-down was lifted.  The owner said he saw something out of place and upon a closer look the cover had been cut. Lifting the cover to look inside, he discovered the suspect, calling police to report his discovery shortly thereafter. The first part of the video is taken with a thermal camera mounted to a helicopter, which is designed to pick up the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The video switches to a full color CCTV camera, then back to thermal infrared for visual comparison. The best thermal images from the above video come between t-minus 20 through 12. This technology is often used by police to locate suspects and by the military to isolate targets, as human body heat is particularly recognizable when juxtaposed with objects that aren’t giving off nearly the same amount of heat. It picked up the heat signature of the individual, and was able to see-through the boat cover he was underneath on the boat itself.  The helicopter was able to direct the tactical teams over to that area.

Update: Tsarnaev was convicted in federal court in Boston, April 2015, and is now on death row.


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