NASA Captures Incredibly High-Res Image of Arizona's Bighorn Fire From Space

NASA's ASTER captured the fascinating red and gray image which shows exactly where the fire damage occurred.
Fabienne Lang
Bighorn fire damageNASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA has some impressive equipment on the ground as well as in Space.

The space agency's Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER, captured incredibly detailed high-resolution thermal images of a wildfire that happened in Bighorn, Arizona, on June 29. 

In the image, greenery is seen in red and the extent of the fire damage is in dark gray, displaying an area of 20 by 30 miles (33 by 48 kilometers). 


Capturing fire 

The Arizona Bighorn fire burned across 118,370 acres of the Santa Catalina Mountains as of Wednesday morning. A number of communities in the area remain evacuated since the fire started on June 5, as per Arizona Central's report.

It's now possible to see the absolute extent of the fire's damage from a different perspective through NASA's ASTER's imaging technique. 

Using its 14 spectral bands as well as its high spatial resolution of around 50 to 300 feet (15 to 90 meters), ASTER is used to image Earth from high above. The aim is to map and monitor changes to our planet's surface. 

The Radiometer was sent up to Space in 1999 aboard Terra and is one of five instruments used to observe Earth from high above. Built by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, ASTER is a collaboration between Japan and the U.S.

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ASTER's images offer scientists from multiple disciplines back down on Earth with incredibly accurate and useful spectral coverage and high spectral resolution. This allows them to put their hands on critical information used for surface mapping as well as keeping an eye on dynamic conditions and temporal changes.

For instance, ASTER captured any glacial advancements or retreats, monitoring volcanoes, noticing crop stress, thermal pollution monitoring, and so on. 

The U.S. team in charge of running ASTER is based in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Space imaging keeps improving year on year, with images of the Sun, for instance, being captured in never-before-seen ways.

NASA Captures Incredibly High-Res Image of Arizona's Bighorn Fire From Space
High-res image of the Bighorn Arizona fire caught by ASTER, Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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