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This article will explain how night vision equipment and thermal imaging devices work in a blizzard. We will point out the critical aspects of using both technologies and identify their differences. We will also track to whom they significantly expand opportunities and facilitate everyday life.
NV technology is based on the principle of capturing infrared light reflected from the surfaces of all objects in the device's field of view and amplifying it multiple times, with the subsequent formation of a three-dimensional picture. The color of the image depends on the color of the phosphor used in the equipment. It can be monochrome green, black and white, or color. In the latest developments for the US Army, the outlines of subjects are highlighted with a bright glow, which minimizes identification errors. For correct operation of night vision optics, some weak light source is needed. For the first generation NV, bright moonlit nights or/ and infrared illumination are required. For the second generation, a starry night is enough. And for the third, very dim light of night lights in dense cloud conditions is enough.
The latest models of night vision binoculars use gated laser imaging. It is a synchronous pair of IR laser flash and NV camera. This allows you to improve the image quality and increase the detection range significantly. Unlike night vision technology, the thermal imaging system uses slightly different operating principles. Thermal imaging devices read the temperature of the surfaces caught in the lens and form a two-dimensional picture. It differs significantly from what the human eye sees since it does not read photons of light but measures the temperature difference. For thermal glasses, it doesn't matter what color the object is. Their sensors are only tuned to the temperature of the object. In our world, all bodies with temperatures above absolute zero can be detected by thermal imaging equipment. Given these data, humankind has received a universal apparatus capable of seeing in complete darkness and bright light. Best of all, it works in all temperatures and the most challenging weather conditions. Snow, rain, fog, smoke, sun glare from the surface of the water, snowy plain, or desert will not be a significant obstacle to the operation of thermal imaging binoculars or monocular. Dense vegetation, thin walls, uneven rocky terrain will not prevent you from detecting the desired one-piece screen of the heat sight or heat goggles.
Progress made it possible to reduce the cost of production of NV and TV. The middle price segment has become available to ordinary citizens and is widely used for property protection, hunting, yachting, and nature observation. Moreover, the entire line of equipment, including cameras, binoculars, monocular, glasses, and sights, is in high demand. Almost everyone, from mothers of the family to pastry chefs, uses thermal imaging equipment. Construction companies use thermal imagers to monitor quality and detect heat, water, and refrigerant leaks. Electricians and engineers use TV devices to detect overloaded points in power grids. Thermal imagers are used for the non-contact measurement of body temperature in everyday life and places with many people. They are implemented in almost every area of human life, from medical research to the baggage tracking system at the airport. The upper stages of the price segment of NV and TV devices are used by the military, law enforcement agencies, rescuers, and doctors.
Moreover, the military can use both technologies in one device and complete it with augmented reality and data exchange via the Internet. Scientists use IR optics for research. Large enterprises control the melting point, chemical processes thanks to a thermal imager. In the face of thermal imaging binoculars or a camera, firefighters received a very informative gadget that can detect people in smoke, areas with high temperatures in a building without violating the integrity of structures. This saves a considerable number of lives around the world. Using thermal goggles or a thermal monocular, rescuers can find people under the rubble of buildings, in mountainous areas, in the forest, against a background of snow or sand.
Moreover, the night will not become a hindrance, which significantly increases the chances of human survival since assistance can be provided around the clock. Rescuing drowning people and navigating on the water is another application area for NV thermal imagers and optics. Almost all transport: planes, cars, trains, subways, ships, and uncrewed vehicles, are all equipped with a combination of NV and TV, or one of these devices.
Night vision devices in snowy weather have several restrictions on their use. The fact is that snow reflects light, and for the most part, hides everything behind it. The image contains so-called visual noise, and it becomes a problem to track objects behind the wall of the blizzard. The denser and more intense the snow stream, the more difficult it is to see something behind it. Therefore, it is better to wait until the end of the bad weather when using night vision binoculars. With thermal imaging binoculars, the picture will change. With a weak snowstorm, all objects of interest to us will not be difficult to track. As a rule, most of the goals we are interested in are warm. It can be a person, an animal, a car with a hot engine. The difference between unfriendly terrain and the target temperature is very significant. A very contrasting temperature difference will be visible on the screen of the goggles. On several models, you can configure the backlighting of temperatures above the specified, bright color. Thus, even at night, during a blizzard, the target is not difficult to recognize. But if the snow falls on a very dense wall, the humidity is at the upper border. Then some difficulties may arise. The fact is that a humid atmosphere and snow will absorb thermal radiation from objects.
Consequently, part of the radiation will be absorbed, and a small amount will reach the screen of the thermal glasses. As a result, the picture will be blurry, not clear, with visual noise. Everything will depend on the specific terrain, conditions, thermal imager model, and detection range. The drier the air, the lower the humidity, the lower the temperature, and the more sensitive the device is, the more precise the image will be. Let's say: in the mountains, with severe frost and snowstorm. The image will be better than a blizzard near the sea, with a slight decrease in temperature.
Even when planning the purchase of a thermal imager or night vision device, it is worth doing a little research work. To do this, you need to determine the temperature range, climate, humidity, operating conditions and define the tasks. That is, the choice should be made specifically for your requirements and needs. On our note, there is no perfect gadget. More and more perfect models appear on the market, and the infinity of choice can only be limited by budget and common sense. For most cases, a mid-range NV and TV combination may be the optimal solution. It will cover all needs and neutralize the shortcomings of each of the devices.
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