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NASA, US Forest Service sign space act agreement

US: The US Forest Service has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to combine their efforts in fire prevention and fire safety. The agreement was signed to formalise intention to continue to use images, research projects to promote wildfire prevention and fire safety.

NASA and the Forest Service have collaborated for years in various areas of research and development, with NASA having a big impact on the Forest Service’s ability to prevent and fight fires. For example, the Forest Service’s early warning system, called ForWarn, uses NASA satellite imagery and other data.

NASA’s Firefly sensor uses infrared scans and satellite navigation to guide fire fighting aircraft.

Images of wildfires from space can be used by firefighters to help control fires and by researchers to learn about wildfire patterns and behaviours. The photos of smoke plumes and fire damage, taken from 240 miles above the planet, also help raise public awareness of the effects of wildfires and the importance of forestry resource management.

Astronauts on the International Space Station have recorded high-resolution video and photographs of the wildfires in Colorado and Utah. Even before the agreement, NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, who currently is on the International Space Station, chose Smokey Bear, the Forest Service’s mascot, as a zero-gravity indicator–which signals when the spacecraft reaches orbit–on his flight to the ISS.

NASA’s Earth Observatory, part of the Earth Observing System (EOS) Project Science Office at the Goddard Space Flight Center, has been providing satellite images of the fires in Colorado as part of a regular stream of similar images from around the world, including fires in Siberia, Spain, and Wyoming.

The Earth Observatory also has created an “aerosol map” that illustrates the spread of wildfire-related particles as they disperse in the atmosphere. The data used for the map was acquired from an ozone-mapping capability on NASA’s Suomi satellite.

Source: Information Week