Herbert Kaplan, Contributing Editor
Infrared imaging systems are exploding into virtually every corner of the industrial workplace. Improved resolution, thermal sensitivity, ruggedness and portability of imager components have expanded the use of imaging systems, and a good many of these improvements come as the results of advances made possible by developments in aerospace applications.
While many conditions in space are conducive to measurements in the IR (for example, the absence of atmospheric absorption through vacuum), conditions such as the acceleration, shock and vibration of launch present a challenge to equipment designers. In addition, traditional payload budget limitations restrict the size, weight, heat generation and power requirements for detectors, cooling systems and infrared optical components destined for space measurements.
Studying the progress of aerospace infrared developments provides a view of the history of terrestrial infrared advances. Similarly, looking at the instruments designed for today's aerospace applications provides a glimpse into tomorrow's terrestrial commercial IR options.