A satellite with extraordinary light-sensing capabilities recently photographed the Rim Fire at night. The image above was captured by NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite on August 23 as the fire burned into Yosemite National Park in California. That was a very active time period for the fire, as it was growing rapidly.
It is common to see satellite data showing heat generated by wildfires, but this is the first image we have seen of visible light created by a fire at night. In this photo, the smoke from the fire is also detected.
The satellite, launched in October 2011, has a new imaging instrument with a “day-night band” that can detect natural and man-made light with unprecedented resolution and clarity — six times better spatial resolution and 250 times better resolution of lighting levels than previous instruments.
Our main article about the Rim Fire is HERE, and is updated daily with maps and current information.
For comparison with the satellite photo, below is a map of the Rim Fire at 9 p.m. August 22.