The U.S. Forest Service now has a better view of wildfires from space, thanks to a new agreement with NASA.
The agreement gives wildland fire managers access to data from a satellite imaging system called VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite). In the daytime, VIIRS can theoretically detect a flaming fire just 50 square meters—about the size of a small house. At night, VIIRS can detect a fire five times smaller. That’s an improvement on current technology, called MODIS, which routinely detects wildfires about 1,000 square meters in size.