NASA's Aqua satellite captured smoke and heat signatures from several large fires burning in the western U.S. on June 19, 2012. When Aqua passed overhead, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument captured an image at 4:25 p.m. EDT.
MODIS infrared imaging can detect heat. Just as the infrared imagery from another instrument onboard Aqua, called the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) is used to detect temperature of clouds, land and sea surface, MODIS data can detect hot spots on land. In the MODIS images, fires, or hot spots are color coded as red areas in imagery and smoke appears in light brown. Images are generated at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
As of June 22, Colorado's High Park Fire has burned 68,200 acres and has destroyed 189 homes, according to the U.S. Forest Service on the Inciweb. Inciweb is the Incident Inter-agency system, that tracks U.S. fire-related incidents, specifically wildland fires. The High Park Fire is located in the Roosevelt National Forest, about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colo. and was started by a lightning strike.