Russia: Russian Aerospace Experiment NOMOS on Forest Fire Radiation Investigations (IFFN No. 11 – July 1994)

Russian Federation:

Russian Aerospace Experiment NOMOS onForest Fire Radiation Investigations

(IFFN No. 11 – July 1994)

Russia is faced with more complicated problems in forest fire management than any other country due to the large size of forest cover with relatively small population density, especially in Siberia and in the Far East. At present aerial reconnaissance of forest fires is possible on up to 50-60% of the Russian territory. However, the need for increasing the airborne fire detection capabilities is clearly recognized. Since similar problems exist in countries like Argentina, Brasil, Australia, China and Canada it is timely to create a global spaceborne system for operational systems for early warning, detecting and monitoring of forest fires. Since boreal forests practically cannot be observed from geostationary orbits it is required to install a system with return intervals of satellites of less than one hour.

Several Russian firms headed by Saliut Designing Bureau (Khrunichev State Space Centre) are working now on the Nomos project which is devised to create and put into action by 1998-1999 a new low-orbit space system for forest fire monitoring and early warning.

The expected specification of this space system are:

  • minimum detection size of forest fire: no more than 0.01 ha (under cloud conditions: 0.1-0.3 ha)
  • mean return interval of observating fires (for Russia): 1 hour
  • accuracy of locating fire coordinates: 0.3-0.5 km
  • possibility of early fire danger warning

     The system will include 6 to 8 satellites on low orbits (900 km), each satellite being equipped with Earth-observing sensors operating in visible, middle infrared (3.5-4 µm) and microwave (8mm) spectral ranges and communication links for transmitting fire warning messages to ground-based, user-friendly stations for receiving and processing satellite data.

    The Nomos space system will also be capable to detect and monitor other types of disasters and emergency situations, e.g. floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, industrial fires, oceanic water contaminations, etc. and monitor the consequences of disasters.


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    Fig.1. Orbiting station Mir with Priroda Module for Forest Fire detection and monitoring in the Nomos project


    During the first stage of the Nomos system development an experimental investigation of the spaceborne sensors will be carried out. The Aerospace Experiment Nomos (ASE Nomos) will be organized and implemented in 1994-95 by Saliut Design Bureau, in cooperation with the Russian Aerial Fire Protection Association Avialesookhrana, the Institute of Radioengineering and Electronics (Russian Academy of Sciences), NPO Energia, and the Fire Ecology Research Group (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany). In this experiment the scientific instruments of Priroda module will be tested. The Priroda module will be launched in spring 1995 on low orbit (altitude: 400 km, inclination angle: 51,6° ) and then attached to the Mir space station (Fig.1).

    The Priroda module is designed for a broad scale of ecological experiments. In ASE Nomos the following instruments will be used:

  • optical middle-resolution scanner MSU-SK
  • optical high-resolution scanner MSU-E
  • 64-channel infrared radiometer “Istok-1”
  • scanning microwave radiometer “Delta-2”

     The main parameters of these devices are given in Table 1. Parallel to the satellite observations aircraft-based instrument observations of forest fires will be conducted using the same spectral characteristics as the Priroda instruments. This should produce reliable data of fires which will help to calibrate and verify satellite data. The first stage of the aircraft experiment will be fulfilled in the forest region near Nizhny Novgorod (400 km East of Moscow) in August 1994. This first set of experiments will include investigation of forest fires in pine forests (similar to Taiga forests) by means of airborne infrared scanning sensor and microwave radiometer. It is aimed to develop concepts of the 1995 follow-up experimental methodology.

    The expected results of ASE Nomos in 1995 are:

  • determination of spectral and amplitude parameters of radiation from forest fires
  • determination of space-based instrument capabilities for forest fire detection and early warning assessment (including cloudy conditions)
  • experimental verification of algorithms for ground based processing of satellite data, estimation of spaceborne sensor methods of remote fire control

     The ASE Nomos organizers invite all the customers interested in obtaining satellite data to take part in the experiments – both in August 1994 and in 1995.

    Yu.G. Burlakov, V.M. Vishniakov, E.P. Davidenko, E.M. Petrov


    Tab.1. Characteristics of instruments on PrirodaModule to be used in ASE Nomos


Wave Length

Field of View Width

Fluctuations Sensitivity (K)

Resolution at Altitude 400 km

Band of View at Altitude 400 km

Orbit-to-Earth Data Transmission Rate (Kbit/sec)

1 Scanning Radiometer Block Delta -2P                P-30

0.3 cm



5 km

400 km



0.8 cm



8 km

400 km


1.35 cm



15 km

400 km


4.0 cm



50 km

400 km

  2 Infrared Spectrometric System Istok-1

3.6-16 µm

12 x 48 ang.min.


1 x 6 km

6 km


3 Scanner MSU-SK

0.5-12.5 µm
(6 spectral ranges)



120-280 m

350 km


4 Scanner MSU-E

0.5-0.9 µm
(3 spectral ranges)



25 m

54 km



Contact Address:


General Designer, Saliut Design Bureau

Khruchinev State Research and Production Space Center
Novozavodskaja st., 18
RU – 121309 Moscow

Fax:     ++7-095-142-5900
Phone: ++7-095-145-8036

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