NASA satellites track fires

NASA

As fire season rages in the western United States, the fire fighters are getting some help from outer space.

NASA's Earth Observing System consists of satellites that relay near-real-time information to U.S. Forest Service fire managers, who currently face wildfires in at least 11 states. The satellites can transmit the location, area and extent of each fire. The system can also track the direction of fires, size of smoke plumes and projected pollution effects.

The Agriculture Department's Forest Service receives the information directly from the satellites via its Remote Sensing Applications Center in Salt Lake City. Fire managers use the data to help them decide where to deploy resources.

"What's important is that the information is accurate and timely," said Tom Bobbe, the center's manager.

The satellite data also helps scientists understand how fires behave. "Using satellites, we have the ability to monitor fires and better understand the processes and changes in fire regimes associated with changes in climate and population," said Chris Justice, a professor of geography at the University of Maryland.

NASA has global ambitions for the system. The agency can create a global map of fires and is trying to get other countries involved in an integrated effort.

"The idea is to get scientists with expertise around the world involved in working as a community to get a better management of the planet as a whole," Justice said.

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.