Uncertainty looms over every battlefield. Carl von Clausewitz, an 18th and 19th century professional soldier and military theorist, famously referred to this as the “fog of war” and emphasized the need for commanders to have a keen mind. However, being able to actually see what is happening certainly doesn’t hurt either, and modern technology has progressed to the point where the soldier on the battlefield can literally see through actual fog.
Technology that allows us to see in the dark, even in a completely lightless environment, is not new, and night-vision gear has been in standard military use for decades. But amplifying ambient light or using infrared illuminators is not the only way to see. In recent years, thermal imaging technology has not only improved in quality, but it’s also become much smaller, more durable and cheaper.
Thermal imagers do not actually detect heat; rather, they can sense the infrared radiation emitted by all objects. The warmer the object, the more radiation is emitted, which allows theses imagers to measure the difference in radiation and present it in a visual spectrum. This heat radiation can be measured through objects, like fog, light vegetation or other light barriers that might otherwise block our view in daylight or even with standard night-vision technology.
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by Jay Langston / Jan 1, 2013