NASA satellite measures height of smoke column on US Tinder Fire

NASA satellite measures height of smoke column on US Tinder Fire

11 May 2018

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USA – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has been measuring wildfire smoke plumes for at least a decade. The nine cameras on the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR), have been capturing imagery of the Tinder Fire as it passes overhead on NASA’s Terra satellite. With a little trigonometry it can determine the height of smoke columns. The image above shows what it came up with after analysing the fire on30 April 2018, the day after it made its biggest run. Strong winds on both days probably kept the smoke from rising as high as it would have under calmer conditions. The two photos above were taken the day before the NASA analysis described here. Below is how NASA described the April 30 analysis:

“On April 30 at 11h15 local time, the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) captured imagery of the Tinder Fire as it passed overhead on NASA’s Terra satellite. The MISR instrument has nine cameras that view Earth at different angles. This image shows the view from MISR’s nadir (downward-pointing) camera. The angular information from MISR’s images is used to calculate the height of the smoke plume, results of which are superimposed on the right-hand image . This shows that the plume top near the active fire was at approximately 13 000 feet altitude (4 000 meters). In general, higher-altitude plumes transport smoke greater distances from the source, impacting communities downwind. A stereo anaglyph providing a three-dimensional view of the plume is also shown. Red-blue glasses with the red lens placed over your left eye are required to observe the 3D effect.

“These data were acquired during Terra orbit 97691. The smoke plume height calculation was performed using the MISR INteractive eXplorer (MINX) software tool, which is publicly available at The MISR Plume Height Project maintains a database of global smoke plume heights, accessible at

“MISR was built and is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Terra spacecraft is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland. The MISR data were obtained from the NASA Langley Research Centre Atmospheric Science Data Centre in Hampton, Virginia. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.”

Source: NASA

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