Canadian Sensor Detects Volcanoes and Fires from Space

Canada has built a sensor which could spot volcanoes and fires from space. The New Infrared Sensor Technology or NIRST instrument which was launched into space on Friday has been designed to help track forest fires, volcanic activities and pollutants from space.

The Quebec built sensor was sent into orbit with an Argentine satellite from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The satellite has a five year mission. The sensors on board will be able to detect the saltiness of the ocean, surface temperature for the ocean, and trace forest fires and volcanic activity on land as per the Canadian Space Agency.

The data from the sensor should be able to trace fires that cover as little as one square km. This will allow firefighters to catch blazes sooner and cut down on casualties as well as carbon emissions. Canada sees an average of two million hectares of forests burn each year and the numbers are expected to rise with climatic change as per scientists.

With the help of the infrared sensor Canada hopes to protect the 10% of the world’s forests that it hosts. The space mission is a joint venture between NASA and Argentina’s space agency CONAE. Besides Canada other countries involved in the project are Brazil, France and Italy.

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