From: LARRY KLAES (ljk4_at_msn.com)
Date: Wed Aug 20 2003 - 10:33:58 PDT
----- Original Message -----
From: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2003 1:32 PM
Subject: NASA Satellites Eye Forest Fires
MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
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Nancy Lovato (818) 354-9382
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
News Release: 2003-113
Aug. 20, 2003
NASA Satellites Eye Forest Fires
If a forest catches fire and no one is around to see it, can it call
for help? The forest cannot call, but thanks to new technology
developed by NASA, firefighters may get the word faster through new,
high-tech eyes in the sky.
New software developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Calif., helps link NASA's Earth science satellites together to form a
virtual web of sensors with the ability to monitor the globe far
better than individual satellites. An imaging instrument flying on
one satellite can detect a fire or other hazard, and automatically
instruct a different satellite that has the ability to take more
detailed pictures to take a closer look. If the images show that a
potential hazard does exist, the responding satellite provides data to
ground controllers, who then report the fire to forest officials and
to an interested science team.
"Essentially, we are adding the response mechanism to the detection
process," said Dr. Steve Chien, JPL principal scientist in artificial
intelligence. "This is a first step to enabling users of satellite
remote sensing data to specify the kind of data they want, such as
forest fires or floods, rather than the traditional request to, say,
look at northern Montana."
One of the core components in this collaborative effort is the Science
Goal Monitor system being developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center, Greenbelt, Md. The system enables scientists to specify what
to look for and how to react in descriptive rather than technical
terms. Then the system monitors science streams of data to identify
occurrences of the key events previously specified by the scientist.
"When an event occurs, the system autonomously coordinates the
execution of the scientist's desired reactions between different
observatories or satellites," said Jeremy Jones, Goddard's task leader
for the monitor system. "This is designed to be adaptable to many
different types of phenomena and supports a wide variety of sensor web
Using the sensor web method, investigators no longer have to rely on
after-the-fact data analysis to determine what happened. The
information can be used to rapidly respond to hazardous events such as
For example, moderate-resolution imaging instruments that fly on both
NASA's Terra and Aqua spacecraft observe the entire globe every day.
The instruments' data is automatically processed on the ground within
hours of acquisition by the Rapidfire Center at the University of
Maryland, College Park. If this processing detects a hot spot,
scientific criteria can be used to automatically redirect the Earth
Observing 1 satellite to provide high-resolution images. When that
information comes back to a scientist for interpretation, it is made
available to forest officials to determine the appropriate response.
All this can happen in 24 to 48 hours, compared to a typical lead time
of 14 days for preplanned observations.
The satellite sensor web demonstration is a collaborative effort
between JPL and the Goddard Space Flight Center. The Rapidfire Center
is led by Dr. Chris Justice.
JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena. More information on JPL is available at
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ .
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