NASA Satellites Help Fight Forest Fires
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration‘s Terra and Aqua satellites are providing fire fighters with forest fire monitoring tools. A suite of satellites, flying in coordinated fashion, offers insight into how forest fires start and spread.
Instruments, such as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra spacecraft, provide daily global observations of the extent and relative intensity of fires and altitude estimates of smoke plumes. Another instrument keeps daily track of the carbon monoxide plumes from fires and the scope of pollution produced regionally and globally. After a fire is contained, imagery from space can help classify the burn area into levels of severity and prioritize rehabilitation work. The imagery can also be used over the longer term to keep tabs on the “green-up” of previously burned areas and to monitor the effectiveness of various treatments.