If your organization currently uses the MSA LUNAR device, please see the following information for your educational and training purposes:

MSA LUNAR-Getting Started (Video by MSA):

MSA LUNAR Edge Detection:

We tested the device in following three environments: low heat, high heat, and high moisture conditions.

In a low heat environment (under 300 degrees Fahrenheit), the resolution and clarity were average for a situational awareness type device. This comparison was made based on our working knowledge of the following devices: the FLIR K1 & K2, the Seek Fire Pro X, The Scott Sight, and the MSA ITIC, and Seek Thermal Fire PRO 200 & 300.

In the scenarios we tested the MSA LUNAR it performed very well in environments under 300 degrees Fahrenheit. We have shared video example of two firefighters removing a victim through the eyes of the LUNAR can be found here

High Heat Environment Test:

Insight Training tested the device within proximity of the fire room in numerous scenarios. It became clear that where edge detection was advantageous in low heat environments, but it became a detriment in high heat environments. This led to our instructors training firefighters on how to quickly turn off the edge detection, so they did not become disoriented by the massive number of green lines that overwhelmed the display. The edge detection outlined the convection currents which made it extremely difficult to discern any other details in the environment.

The following video on our YouTube channel demonstrates how the edge detection overwhelms the image with too much information. It appears to be outlining the convection currents.

MSA LUNAR Color Palette Information:

Insight Training evaluated the application modes or color palettes of the MSA LUNAR throughout the trainings we conducted. The LUNAR offers 23 color palettes. As thermography professionals, we are trained in the various color palettes that are used in the inspection industry. The color palettes that are offered via LUNAR are not conducive for firefighting. Twenty of the color palettes are designed for low temperature and low contrast environments.

The three-color palettes that we recommend are as follows: white hot, hottest, and black hot.

However, Black hot is not recommended for fire attack but is extremely useful for lost person search operations outside of the fire environment.

For the realm of firefighting, the LUNAR devices were set for white hot default and Hottest for standard infrared color palette.

White Hot Edge mode: The image clarity was good and consistent with other models with this specific resolution capability. The Edge Detection is extremely sensitive. In high heat conditions, the edge detection outlined everything (heat, flames, convection currents) which was overwhelming to the end user. However, it performed well in highlighting void spaces and other details in the burn buildings that Insight Training trained in.

• #11 Hottest: In Hottest (red hot), the device responded as expected, highlighting the warmer parts of the room in red. However, it was not color/temperature correlative.

• Reference for colorization temperatures: MSA does not publish the color temperature correlation on any color palette for any of their color palette selections.

• We also recommend that MSA remove the spot temperature feature per NFPA 1801 2021: It is recommended to remove this feature as it is not an accurate quantitative thermography device. Several line of duty deaths have been cited as a contributing factor in the misuse of this application. Please see the following article for more information on this topic:

The Danger of the Spot Temperature


Category-Refresh Rate:

MSA LUNAR device uses Mixed Gain mode temperature modes in combination with a 16-refresh rate. In most fire service TICs, it is not desirable to have less than 25 hertz refresh rate/frame rate. NFPA 1801-2021 6.1.7 recommends a minimum of 25 hertz refresh rate in both the detector and the display for a very specific reason. Any device with a slower frame rate than 25 hertz will often lag and delay valuable information being delivered to the end user. If the intent of the LUNAR device is to improve overall accountability and safety on the fire ground, this should be increased to a faster frame rate.

Firefighters using less than 25 hertz refresh rate/frame rate devices may miss important details. Slower refresh rates/frame rates will cause the device to not keep up with the scanning and movement of a firefighter in fast paced, dynamic, and rapidly deteriorating environment. In short, those valuable seconds lost can equate to injury or worse.

Most situational awareness TICs on the market are between 9-16 hertz which is counterproductive to their very intended purpose. However, we understand that most manufacturers produce a 9 Hertz model due to ITAR and EAR restrictions.

For more on this topic, please see the following article:

Low Hertz, Hurts Performance


Within this article is a video demonstrating the lag/delay of a FLIR K1 or K2 with a 9 hertz processor. The MSA LUNAR does not lag or delay as severe as the FLIR K1 or K2. We noted delays of as low as ½ to 2 seconds with the MSA LUNAR when scanning. The delays were more significant in the presence of high heat conditions (over 300 degrees Fahrenheit).

High Moisture Environment Test:

One of the most surprising tests that we performed was testing the LUNAR in high moisture environments. Typically, when firefighters must search above the fire the smoke is stagnant and consists of high moisture content. Most fire service TICs do not perform well in high moisture environments as moisture consistently accumulates on the lens degrading the image.

However, LUNAR performed well in areas with high condensation/moisture content in the atmosphere. In Stafford County Virginia, we conducted 24 hours of live fire thermal imaging search training. The fire room was directly exhausting up a set of stairs to a 40’ shipping container mounted perpendicular to the fire room.

As we escorted teams through the search scenario, we noticed we could not see the firefighters with any of the decision-making TICs we were carrying (FLIR, Bullard, Seek, Scott, MSA) until we viewed the environment with the MSA LUNAR. Due to edge detection, it outlined the firefighters as they moved down the length of the 40’ shipping container thereby allowing the instructor to provided oversight of the students and maintain accountability.

This was extremely impressive! High moisture content environments are the Achilles heel of fire service thermal imaging cameras. This feature could provide very useful in VES situations or when a firefighter becomes lost in large open spaces such as warehouse fires that consist of cold smoke environments due to sprinkler head activations.

As always, we recommend that every organization conduct their own evaluation of these devices before purchasing. The MSA LUNAR offers other software features that are very valuable for locating downed firefighters but are not included in this evaluation.

Andy Starnes

Insight Training LLC

Thermography Certified Fire Service Professionals