ANU to monitor bushfires from space

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Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) will lead development of Australia’s first satellite to monitor bushfires.

The satellite will measure forest fuel load and vegetation moisture, and will be specifically tuned to detect changes in plants and trees such as eucalypts, which are highly flammable.

The shoe box-sized satellite will be designed, developed and built at the ANU Mt Stromlo campus to enhance bushfire management and prevention.

The ANU Institute for Space (InSpace) has awarded A$1m (US$660,000) to the team to build an optical system that can detect changes through infrared detectors on board the satellite.

The team will partner with other researchers and the private sector to complete the project and launch the satellite into low-Earth orbit.

Remote-sensing expert Dr Marta Yebra is working with instrument scientist Dr Rob Sharp to plan the development of the satellite.

Dr Yebra, an InSpace mission specialist from the Fenner School of Environment and Society and the Research School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Environmental Engineering at ANU, said, “This infrared technology and data, which is not currently available, will help to target controlled burns that can reduce the frequency and severity of bushfires, as well as their long-term impacts on Australia’s people, economy, and environment.”

ANU have released a video to demonstrate the project, click here to view.

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