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By Lumistar's Chief Scientist

June 15, 2016

Infrared Helicopter Uncovers ‘Fight Club’

In the middle of the night, at a closed Winn Dixie parking lot in Orlando, Florida, a ‘fight club’ assembled and began voluntarily assaulting each other. The Winn Dixie employees had gone home and no shoppers were in sight. Two men, an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old, were caught engaged in their illegal activities by a thermal imaging camera mounted to a police helicopter while it floated quietly above. (See video above.)

The helicopter called local patrol cars below to intervene. The suspects ran, of which the 18-year-old ran into the woods to evade both the helicopter and the police on foot, but thermal imaging spotted him through the trees from above. The police helicopter coordinated with law enforcement on the ground, and all suspects were caught. Both men now face charges of public fighting and resisting arrest.

More video at Live Leak

April 15, 2016

New Generation Infrared Satellites Discover Shipwrecks

Infrared Shipreck

Researchers have found shipwrecks near the coast can leave sediment plumes that can be detected by infrared satellites looking on the water’s surface which can reveal their location. The joint venture NASA/USGS Landsat 8 satellite, put into space in 2013, was recently utilized in a study to see if it could spot watery graves of shipwrecks by detecting sediment plumes in shallow water less than 50 feet (15 m) with plumes extending as far as 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) downstream. Researchers used atmospherically corrected Landsat 8 reflectance data from OLI 4 (red band) and OLI 5 (infrared band). An estimated 3 million shipwrecks are scattered across the planet’s oceans.

Sediment plumes must reach the surface in order to be detected by infrared. The researchers postulated that the exposed underwater structures have created scour pits in the seafloor that fill with fine sediments (sand, clay, organic matter) during slack tides, the period of relatively still water. These scour pits become repositories from which sediments are re-suspended during flood and ebb tides. When these sediments reach the surface, they create their telltale plumes.

Typically these shallow, sediment-rich areas near shore were hazards to navigation due to reasons such as shallow water hazards rocks and reefs, which can cause catastrophic damage to vessels either in a storm or as a result of navigational error. Also, historically, military and pirate activity typically took place near shore.

This discovery demonstrates for the first time how Landsat and Landsat-like infrared satellites may be used for marine archeology. For example, the newly recovered ships may be a discovery of historical significance. Another potential uses is if the hard substrate of the ship has created a reef, it can be of great ecological significance. Also, modern-era shipwrecks are commonly sources of pollution, leaking onboard fuel and corroded heavy metals which can be studied for their ecological impact or cleaned up. Newly discovered underwater shipwrecks could also be added to navigation charts, as unknown underwater shipwrecks are potential hazards for commercial shipping routes. …Or this technology can be used for treasure hunters, what else? Let’s not try and sugar coat it, or in this case sediment coat it.
Credits: NASA/USGS Landsat/NASA Earth Observatory

February 15, 2016

First Aerial Infrared Footage of L.A. Natural Gas Leak

Thousands of residents from upscale community Porter Ranch, California, as suburb of Los Angeles, have been relocated after becoming sickened by nearby massive gas leak that began in October 2015. The natural gas well was originally an oil field but was quickly depleted over a 60 plus year span. In the 1970s, the land’s owners pumped in natural gas into the empty well to be stored and later used when prices were higher. As nearby residents began experiencing nausea, nosebleeds, dizziness, and headaches the utility provider SoCalGas allegedly informed local authorities 3 days after detection according to court documents. The residents were initially told they were feeling sick from the rotten-egg smell added to the natural gas which is used to alert customers when they have a gas leak in their home as natural gas is odorless, but it was further revealed that compounds that can cause cancer, for example benzene, were elevated beyond their legal limits. Residents and media took to using infrared cameras to show the dramatic effect of the gas leak, as well as to provide peace of mind when it is resolved. By adding a special filter and using a specific bandwidth of the infrared spectrum, infrared cameras can detect gases including natural gas in the atmosphere to be shown in the visible spectrum. The above video was taken with a special infrared camera from a helicopter showing what is invisible to the naked eye or traditional cameras. SoCalGas has been working on building a new relief well adjacent to the broken well to siphon the gas to a new receptacle, after which time the old well will be filled with mud and sealed with cement. The leak was stopped last week, but the families won’t start moving back to nearby homes until state authorities have certified that cement pumped into the well has permanently plugged it.

Update: On February 17, SoCalGas pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from the ruptured well in California that leaked for weeks. The complaint brought by the county district attorney includes three counts of failing to report the release of a hazardous material and one count of discharge of air contaminants. If convicted, the company could be fined up to $1,000 per day for air pollution violations and up to $25,000 for each of the three days it didn’t notify the state office of emergency services of the leak.

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.

Learn More Here

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.

Learn More

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

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.

Learn More Here

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.

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