Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Another day, another natural disaster on Earth seen from space...

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

29-09-2005 20:14 CDT

Topics: pretty pictures, Earth, Earth observing missions

...but this one is much closer to home than Katrina and Rita were.

Below is an image captured today by the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite.

View of the Topanga fire, southern California, from the MODIS satellite

View of the Topanga fire, southern California, from the MODIS satellite

detailed view of the Topanga fire burning in southern California at 11:35 local time on September 29, 2005. The red boxes indicate the location of a "thermal anomaly" detected in mid-infrared wavelengths -- in other words, they outline areas of active fires. Image courtesy of MODIS Rapid Response Project at NASA/GSFC

The view is of Los Angeles (lower right) and southern Ventura (center) counties here in southern California. The Planetary Society's headquarters is located not far from the right side of the map. My home is located quite close to one of those red boxes, which are outlines of pixels in the MODIS thermal infrared data that contain "thermal anomalies." Fortunately, my home is on the EAST side of those boxes, which -- as you can see from the direction that all the smoke is traveling out across Ventura -- is opposite to the direction that the wildfires appear to be traveling. I have been consulting websites from work all day trying to assess the progress of the fire. I know which nearby communities are being evacuated, but I couldn't find any maps that showed me where the fire was, so I couldn't figure out whether my neighborhood was really threatened or not. It didn't occur to me until tonight to check MODIS. Voilà! I have my answer -- the MODIS image shows me where the fires were at noon, and where the plume is traveling.

Thank you, MODIS, for giving me a little peace of mind. Now if they could only make a satellite that could clean up the air. Ashes are blowing around like a very light snowfall here, and it smells like the inside of a campfire.

See other posts from September 2005


Or read more blog entries about: pretty pictures, Earth, Earth observing missions


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Essential Advocacy

Our Advocacy Program provides each Society member a voice in the process.

Funding is critical. The more we have, the more effective we can be, translating into more missions, more science, and more exploration.


Featured Images

NGC 4100
The Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405)
LDN 604 and GGD 30
Schiaparelli backshell and parachute landing location from HiRISE in color
More Images

Featured Video

The Planetary Post - Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!