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How NASA technology is helping firefighters tackle wildfires on the ground

From the United States to the Mediterranean coastlines, wildfires have been breaking records this summer, with places in Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, and Italy seeing some of the worst fires in decades.

As climate change-induced drought and severe heatwaves complicate the painstaking efforts of firefighters to put out the flames, modern technology is stepping in to support with a special piece of equipment: NASA’s ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) abroad the International Space Station (ISS).

The technology, which comes from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was designed to measure the surface temperature of any location on Earth. It is now not only helping scientists gain insight into the effects of heatwaves and droughts on crops but also assisting firefighting crews by specifically monitoring the spread of the Bootleg and Dixie fires (America’s two biggest active wildfires) and identifying any threats to infrastructure, such as power lines that can further exacerbate the spread of fire.

This is yet another great example of how satellites in Earth’s orbit can help us manage problems on the ground in a timely and impactful way.

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