With wildfires an ever-growing threat, help is arriving from all quarters. Now, a satellite sensor is enabling NASA to monitor them from space. While in the past, satellite images could show where wildfires were burning, they could not tell where the flames were headed, NASA said in a statement in early December. Equipped with a special sensor on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite that downloads high-resolution data, NASA can get triple the detail with the new technology.
“Images from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on NPP are almost three times more detailed—about 1,200 foot resolution versus 3,280 foot resolution,” the space agency said.
"We hope that by infusing the higher resolution detection data and fire behavior modeling outputs into tactical fire situations, we can lessen the pressure on those working in fire management,” said Wilfred Schroader of the University of Maryland Collage Park, in a NASA statement.
What this could mean on the ground is less danger.
Hundreds of square miles of tribal and non-tribal lands were scorched over the summer.
Below, NASA explains the technology and its new use.