Could satellites used to peer into the galaxy and observe far-off stars be used to fight wildfires here on Earth?

Well that’s what a company called “Fireball International” is looking into as they seek to get funding to set up a series of geosynchronous satellites around the planet in a project called FUEGO.

According to Christoph Tylor, CEO of Fireball’s Australian division, “We hope to roll out a global early wildfire detection and assessment system based on space and ground based sensors…We also aim to build our own geostationary FUEGO satellite hardware to improve the resolution and sensitivity of the satellites used to detect wildfires.”

The idea of using far-out space technology to fight wildfires was the brainchild of astrophysicist Carl Pennypacker. During his tenure at the University of California, Berkeley in 1991, Pennypacker came up with the notion that space technology could be used to help firefighters after a big blaze destroyed neighborhoods and forests just a few miles from his house, ultimately causing 1.5 billion dollars of damage.

And just how will Pennypacker’s system actually work? As laid out in Mongabay:

[W]ith FUEGO, the entire detection process can take as little as three minutes from a fire’s ignition. If fully realized, geostationary satellites would be just one component of the entire FUEGO system. According to Pennypacker (FUEGO’s designer), the system will consist of technology at many altitudes, including mountaintop cameras, drones, air tankers, and existing low Earth orbit satellites. With an integrated system, Pennypacker explained that the response can be almost immediate once a satellite or camera picks up a signal.”

For more information, read the full article in Mongabay here.


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