Can James Bond really see through walls with an infrared camera? Who’s the coolest in the room? Why do mammals have fur? And are some colours really warm while others are cold? All questions you can answer in this experiment – and more!
Forest fires in Portugal in 2005. No smoke without fire. But if you superimpose an infrared picture on the satellite image, you can see that there are fires with very little smoke (light red). Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
There is more to our world than meets the eye. Apart from the visible spectrum there is a whole range of invisible types of electromagnetic radiation. Radio waves and x-rays are examples, as well as infrared radiation. Infrared contains information on the temperature of a given item and we can make these temperatures visible with an infrared camera.
Infrared radiation can be used when collecting the Sun’s energy or to transmit information from a remote control to a stereo.
The flying telescope SOFIA searches for new stars. Credit: NASA/C. Thomas
Scientists at the DLR use infrared cameras to find out more about the history of celestial bodies. The space telescope Herschel and the reflector telescope SOFIA – which is built onto an aeroplane – support them in their endeavours. There is also the small satellite Bird which has its sights set on matters in the opposite direction. It can be used to identify (wild)fires on Earth quickly so they can be put out as quickly as possible.