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Night View of Western Wildfires

Night View of Western Wildfires
Night View of Western Wildfires

For more than a decade, scientists have used data from instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites to map the locations of wildfires. Now researchers have another tool for observing fires around the world. The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (S-NPP) carries an instrument so sensitive to low light levels that it can detect wildfires in the middle of the night.

On August 17, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi-NPP acquired this image of wildfires blazing in the western United States. The images were created with data from the instrument’s “day-night band,” which sensed the fire in the visible portion of the spectrum. The lower image shows three of the largest fires burning in Idaho.

NASA image by Jesse Allen, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data. Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA and the Department of Defense. Caption by Adam Voiland.

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