History of Thermal Imaging

Infrared energy is emitted or absorbed by molecules when they change their rotational-vibrational movements. Infrared energy excites vibrational modes in a molecule through a change in the dipole moment, making it a useful frequency range for study of these energy states for molecules of the proper symmetry. Infrared spectroscopy examines absorption and transmission of photons in the infrared energy range.

Infrared radiation is used in industrial, scientific, and medical applications. Night-vision devices using active near-infrared illumination allow people or animals to be observed without the observer being detected. Infrared astronomy uses sensor-equipped telescopes to penetrate dusty regions of space, such as molecular clouds; detect objects such as planets, and to view highly red-shifted objects from the early days of the universe. Infrared thermal-imaging cameras are used to detect heat loss in insulated systems, to observe changing blood flow in the skin, and to detect overheating of electrical apparatus.

Thermal-infrared imaging is used extensively for military and civilian purposes. Military applications include target acquisition, surveillance, night vision, homing and tracking. Humans at normal body temperature radiate chiefly at wavelengths around 10 ?m (micrometers). Non-military uses include thermal efficiency analysis, environmental monitoring, industrial facility inspections, remote temperature sensing, short-ranged wireless communication, spectroscopy, and weather forecasting.

STS-3_infrared_on_reentry

Thermography helped to determine the temperature profile of the Space Shuttle thermal protection system during re-entry.

Modern whole Body Thermography is a non-invasive “early detection” system that accurately assesses organ and body malfunctions by identifying “signatures” of diseases.

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