ECOSTRESS Views 2021 Southern Oregon Bootleg Fire
NASA's ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) is aiding in the fight against fires in the Western U.S. As of July 27, 2021, the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon had ballooned to more than 410,000 acres, damaging hundreds of buildings and vehicles in its path.
ECOSTRESS measures surface temperature from the vantage point of the International Space Station. Researchers of the RADR-Fire team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have been experimenting with ECOSTRESS data as part of a new tool now being implemented for first responders like the U.S. Forest Service.
In the visualization, ECOSTRESS is tracking the movement of the Bootleg Fire between July 7 and July and identifying its proximity to critical infrastructure — areas in red represent the hottest pixels ECOSTRESS detected. The extreme heat in those areas indicates the fire front, or where resources are most needed.
Tasked with detecting plant water use and stress, ECOSTRESS's primary mission is to measure the temperature of plants heating up as they run out of water. But it can also measure and track heat-related phenomena like wildfires, heat waves, and volcanoes. ECOSTRESS observations have a spatial resolution of about 77 by 77 yards (70 by 70 meters), which enables researchers to study surface-temperature conditions down to the size of a football field. Due to the space station's unique orbit, the mission can acquire images of the same regions at different times of the day, as opposed to crossing over each area at the same time of day like satellites in other orbits do. This is advantageous when monitoring plant stress in the same area throughout the day, for example.
The ECOSTRESS mission launched to the space station on June 29, 2018. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages the mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
More information about ECOSTRESS is available here: https://ecostress.jpl.nasa.gov/.