The Crazy Accurate Thermal Images That Saw Dzokhar Tsarnaev Through a Boat Tarp (Updated)

There was no small amount of technology that went into the capture of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev, but perhaps none was more impressive than the helicopter-mounted, forward-looking infrared camera that confirmed once and for all that there was someone hiding in a boat in Watertown, Massachusetts. And that he was almost certainly Dzokhar Tsarnaev.

Here are the pictures that sky-high camera took, just released a few hours ago by the Massachusetts State Police. They're incredible.

The shot above gives the cleanest look taken by state police's Air Wing, after being tipped off by the boat's owner that there was a man smeared with blood (Tsarnaev) hiding inside. You can see Tsarnaev's legs extended almost to the wheel, and his right arm outstretched. The boat itself looks almost like an X-ray. And that's no surprise, given the capabilities of the technology involved. As we wrote last night, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras are equipped with special sensors that can detect infrared radiation, such as that caused by a heat source. Specifically, in this case, caused by a heat source belonging to a human body.

Following are four additional pictures taken by the cops' thermal eye in the sky, each showing off just how impressive—and invaluable—the technology was on a chillingly tense Friday night.


At 7:19 pm, the helicopter takes an early pass over the boat. From this angle, it's difficult to tell what, if anything, is inside.

The Crazy Accurate Thermal Images That Saw Dzokhar Tsarnaev Through a Boat Tarp (Updated)


In this shot, taken at 7:22 pm, a heat signature confirms that there's a person under the tarp, and that he's likely alive. That glowing object is Tsarnaev.

The Crazy Accurate Thermal Images That Saw Dzokhar Tsarnaev Through a Boat Tarp (Updated)


At 7:35, the camera is switched back to normal mode to monitor the removal of the tarp by the advance team.

The Crazy Accurate Thermal Images That Saw Dzokhar Tsarnaev Through a Boat Tarp (Updated)


Quick progress was made; by 7:36 the tarp was removed enough for an unobstructed look at Tsarnaev.

The Crazy Accurate Thermal Images That Saw Dzokhar Tsarnaev Through a Boat Tarp (Updated)


And just for fun, here's a look at the helicopter the camera was attached to.

The Crazy Accurate Thermal Images That Saw Dzokhar Tsarnaev Through a Boat Tarp (Updated)

Update:Police have now released full raw video taken by the FLIR camera:

[MSP, TPM via Digg]