NASA Aircraft Aiding Southern California Firefighting Effort

NASA Aircraft Aiding Southern California Firefighting Effort

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct 24, 2007

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE – In response to a request from the California Office of Emergency Services and the National Interagency Fire Center, NASA is flying an aircraft equipped with sophisticated infrared imaging equipment today to assist firefighters battling several of the Southern California wildfires.

The Ikhana unmanned aircraft system, a Predator B modified for civil science and research missions, was launched about 8:45 a.m. PDT from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. It is expected to fly over the major blazes burning in the Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs areas and possibly down into San Diego County to image wildfires raging in that area. The aircraft is controlled remotely by pilots in a ground control station at NASA Dryden.

The Ikhana is carrying the Autonomous Modular Scanner, a thermal-infrared imaging system developed at NASA's Ames Research Center in Northern California. The system is capable of peering through heavy smoke and darkness to see hot spots, flames and temperature differences, processing the imagery on-board, and then transmitting that information in near real time so it can aid fire incident commanders in allocating their firefighting resources.

The images are transmitted through a communications satellite to NASA Ames where the imagery is placed on an Ames Web site, combined with Google Earth maps, and then transmitted to the interagency fire center in Boise, Idaho, where it is then made available to incident commanders in the field.

The system was validated recently during a series of wildfire imaging demonstration missions conducted by NASA and the U.S. Forest Service in August and September.

Mission managers indicated a second imaging flight may occur on Thursday, Oct. 25, as well. Each flight is being coordinated with the FAA to allow the remotely piloted aircraft to fly within the national airspace while maintaining separation from other aircraft.

Also, a NASA satellite has captured remarkable imagery of the wildfires. To view and download images and for additional information, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/socal_wildfires_oct07.html

For additional images and more information about the wildfire demonstrations please visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/home/index.html

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/newsphotos/index.html

NASA Contacts:

Beth Hagenauer NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (661) 276-7960 / 2665 beth.hagenauer@nasa.gov

John Buck NASA Ames Research Center 650-604-5026 jbluck@arc.nasa.gov

GA-ASI Contact:

Kimberly Kasitz Public Relations Manager
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
+1.858.312.2294
kimberly.kasitz@ga-asi.com