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Published on Aug 21, 2012
A combination of lightning, drought and human activity caused fires to scorch more than one-third of Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 1988. Within a year, burn scars cast a sharp outline on the 793,880 acres affected by fire, distinguishing wide sections of recovering forest, meadows, grasslands and wetlands from unburned areas of the park. After more than two decades, satellite instruments can still detect these scars from space.
Landsat Project Scientist Jeff Masek has been studying the recovery of the forest after the 1988 Yellowstone fires. In the video below, he talks about how Landsat satellites detect the burn scars from space and distinguish them from healthy, un-burned forest and from new growth.
NASA and the U.S. Department of the Interior through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) jointly manage Landsat, and the USGS preserves a 40-year archive of Landsat images with free distribution of data over the Internet. The next Landsat satellite, now known as the Landsat Data Continuty Mission (LDCM) and later to be called Landsat 8, is scheduled for a launch in 2013.