Colorado Junkins Fire Viewed From Space

Image Credit: NOAA/NASA

Image Credit: NOAA/NASA

October 18, 2016 – This true-color image from the the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite shows a large plume of smoke drifting eastward from the Junkins Fire burning near Pueblo, Colorado, on October 17, 2016.

According to several news sources, the Junkins fire, whose epicenter is located in Custer county west of Wetmore, began on Monday, October 17. The fire has spread significantly in a 24-hour period — what started as a fire of several acres has exploded to 15,751 acres as of Tuesday morning and is currently 0% contained. Firefighters are reporting that the blaze is in deep forest, making it difficult to manage. Evacuations are in progress with at least 130 homes under mandatory evacuation and 140 homes in pre-evacuation as of Monday. There have been reports of homes and outbuildings destroyed, but this is not confirmed.

Today’s fire weather outlook warns of an elevated risk of wildfire in the area due to the presence of breezy conditions, low relative humidity, and dry fuels.

VIIRS is a scanning radiometer that collects visible and infrared imagery and “radiometric” measurements. VIIRS data is used to measure cloud and aerosol properties, ocean color, sea and land surface temperature, ice motion and temperature, fires, and Earth’s albedo (reflected light). VIIRS is built by Raytheon Company and is known for producing unprecedented, detailed images.

Although true-color images like this may look like photographs, they aren’t. True-color imagery is created by combining VIIRS’s color channels that are sensitive to the red, green and blue (or RGB) wavelengths of light. In addition, several other channels are often also included to cancel out atmospheric interference, such as clouds and aerosols, which can cause a blurry picture.

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite bus was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado. Ball Aerospace also built the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) instrument

This natural-color image was captured by NASA's Aqua satellite with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on October 17, 2016 at 19:50 UTC (1:50 pm MT). Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. Image Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC

This natural-color image was captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on October 17, 2016 at 19:50 UTC (1:50 pm MT). Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. Image Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC