NASA Helps Firefighters By Sending Pics From International Space Station to Show Key Spots of Moving Wildfires

20th August, 2021.      //   General Interest  // 

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A NASA sensor on board the International Space Station is in a unique position to give firefighters with critical information on wildfire growth and hotspots over time.

Frontline firefighters have been aided by data from ECOSTRESS’ thermal maps in containing roughly 53% of the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, which was the biggest wildfire burning in the United States two weeks ago.

ECOSTRESS (ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Orbit Station) measures surface temperature from space and can monitor flames at a high spatial resolution (about 70 meters), making it suitable for fire tracking.

ECOSTRESS data has been tested by researchers on the RADR-Fire team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as part of a new tool being introduced for first responders like as the US Forest Service.

ECOSTRESS was following the Bootleg Fire’s progress and determining its closeness to key infrastructure in one case. The hottest pixels that ECOSTRESS can identify are shown in red. The intense heat in the red areas denotes the fire front, or the area where the greatest resources are required.

ECOSTRESS has a one-of-a-kind set of capabilities. Most satellites lack the resolution to monitor the narrow line of the fire front, and even if they did, it would take them 5–16 days to return to the same region, whereas the space station passes overhead twice in one day.

 

wildfire-hotspot-via-ECOSTRESS-NASAJPL-Caltech-1024x546 ECOSTRESS also recorded data on the Dixie Fire in Northern California, which had grown to over 220,000 acres in just a few days.

ECOSTRESS also recorded data on the Dixie Fire in Northern California, which had grown to over 220,000 acres in just a few days.

At the end of July, more than 7,000 people were participating in the firefighting response to the two fires. Despite having a range of instruments at their disposal, the utilization of spaceborne high-resolution data, such as that supplied by ECOSTRESS, demonstrates the adaptability and real-world effect satellite data can bring.