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Yosemite Fire Burns Bright in Incredible Nighttime Image From Space By Betsy Mason | Wired | Image Credit: NASA/NOAA

The blaze raging its way through a national forest in the Yosemite National Park area, known as the Rim fire, can be seen with frightening clarity at the center of this image taken by NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite on August 23. The size of the fire is especially obvious in this view, as compared to Lake Tahoe outlined above it, San Francisco Bay to the left and Las Vegas to the right. The next slide is a new daytime image taken by the same satellite on August 25.

The satellite, launched in October 2011, has a new imaging instrument with a “day-night band” that can detect natural and man-made light with unprecedented resolution and clarity — six times better spatial resolution and 250 times better resolution of lighting levels than previous instruments.

The day-night band is one of 22 different wavelength channels on the satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite. For each pixel, the instrument uses a low-, medium- or high-gain mode to accurately depict the light from each source. Low-light signals are amplified and bright lights are kept from being over-saturated. It can resolve all sorts of nighttime light such as auroras, the lights alongside highways and even the light of a single boat at sea. It’s also great at resolving wildfires. In this image, the smoke from the fire has also been detected.

The Rim fire started 10 days ago and has so far burned around 150,000 acres in the Stanislaus National Forest. Nine structures have been burned and as many as 1,600 more are threatened, according to The Los Angeles Times. Officials reported this morning that the fire is 15 percent contained, the first real progress made in the fight. It is one of the largest fires in California’s history.

Read follow-up article via Wired here.

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, #earth #Yosemite #United States #Yosemite National Park #rim fire #fire #wild fire #California
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