Nighttime photo of the Rim Fire from space

Rim Fire, August 23, 2013 as seen from Suomi NPP satellite
Rim Fire, August 23, 2013 as seen from Suomi NPP satellite
Rim Fire, August 23-26, 2013
Rim Fire, as seen from Suomi NPP satellite August 23-26, 2013, showing the boundary of Yosemite National Park.

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.

Map of Rim fire at 9 p.m.  PDT, August 22, 2013
Map of the Rim fire. The red line was the perimeter at 9 p.m. PDT, August 22, 2013. The pink line was the perimeter about 24 hours previously. The boundary of Yosemite National Park is shown in green.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

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