For homeowners in many California counties this summer, wildfires have been a personal menace. At one point this month, more than 1700 fires were burning threatening huge swaths of the Golden State. Thankfully, almost every fire has been extinguished with the remaining few dozen under the control of firefighters.
Though little can be done to prevent these types of forest fires (lightening has been blamed in almost all cases) there is some sky high assistance fire personnel are receiving thanks to NASA.
NASA is doing its part to help fight California wildfires through satellites, aircraft, and research experience which, together, have created an abundance of leading edge tools to assist firefighters win the battle. These same tools have also helped scientists understand the impact that fires and smoke have on Earth’s climate and ecosystems. To further the effort, an all-new NASA Web site brings to the public and journalists the latest information about this work.
The NASA “Fire and Smoke” website made its debut last week and includes regular updates of NASA images of fires and their associated smoke plumes in the US and around the globe. The site also features articles on the latest research results and multimedia resources from across NASA.
The site is updated regularly with new images from NASA’s suite of Earth-observing satellites and airborne observatories, including the unmanned Ikhana aircraft that recently pinpointed wildfire hotspots across California. NASA’s investment in these observational resources, and the research and development to transform them into practical tools for operational agencies, supports ongoing nationwide efforts to fight wildfires.
For homeowners concerned about their property, valuables, pets, and livestock, the NASA wildfire site can help pinpoint how fires are being fought and the work being done to contain them. Earlier this month California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA’s Ames Research Center in San Jose to learn more about the agency’s help in fighting wildfires.
The Web site is available at http://www.nasa.gov/fires