People, Environment

NASA Tech to Track Wildfires

NASA Tech to Track WildfiresNASA Tech to Track Wildfires

NASA has announced an ambitious plan to surround the earth with hundreds of tiny satellites that could monitor wildfires in near real-time within the next three years. The program, dubbed FireSat, could be incredibly valuable in a world where large fires are becoming more common due, in part, to climate change. Those large fires also release carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming, Climate Central reported. Numerous small fires create huge climate, air quality, and health problems as well as wreak havoc on the climate. Add in the cost of fighting fires, which has increased more than sixfold since the mid-1980s, and the benefits of improved monitoring become clearer. To keep an eye on blazes, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is developing sensors that can be loaded onto private-sector communication satellites that Arthur Lane, FireSat’s coordinator, said would likely be about half the size of a shoe box. The piggybacking will allow NASA to put the 200 or so sensors needed for global monitoring into space much faster than they would otherwise be able to. The first launch is targeted for late 2017, with the full system coming online as early as June 2018.