Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

Watching fires via satellites a win for emergency services

Donna Coutts, February 14, 2017 6:00PM Herald Sun

Print Article


news

Reading level: red

HIGH-QUALITY images taken from space of bushfires and other natural disasters will help save lives.

The Remote* Sensing Research Group at La Trobe University’s engineering department has been selected as the downlink, or relay station, for the German Aerospace Center’s FIREBIRD satellite program. The program allows emergency services to react in near real-time to bushfire threats and other disasters.

A downlink is a relay to earth for signals coming from spacecraft, a satellite or aircraft.

“This technology, with the inclusion* of additional* satellites in five to eight years’ time, will form the basis* of a fire monitoring system that will provide the equivalent* mapping of the Bureau of Meteorology rain radar, but for fires,” La Trobe senior lecturer Dr Peter Moar said.

“In terms of resolution* and sensitivity the satellites are significantly more advanced than what is currently* available.

Image of Indonesia taken by the TET satellite, one of the FIREBIRD satellites. Picture: supplied media_cameraImage of Indonesia taken by the TET satellite, one of the FIREBIRD satellites. Picture: supplied

“Receiving the data in near-real time means this technology has the capability* to save lives and reduce the impact bushfires have.”

By using infra-red technology* and visible wavelengths, the satellite can map even the smallest bushfires through most clouds and smoke. High-temperature events will be measured and mapped via the satellite, with high-resolution data then sent back to earth for scientific research.

The work will also involve ESS Weathertech, an Australian company based in Richmond. The company will provide the downlink to the FIREBIRD satellites.

“We will be able to detect where and when fires are likely to spread. The FIREBIRD satellites, along with yet-to-be launched satellites, will hopefully help to assist in preventing future major outbreaks,” Dr Moar said.

TET-1 satellite on fire watch from earth orbit, as part of the FIREBIRD program. Picture: supplied media_cameraTET-1 satellite on fire watch from earth orbit, as part of the FIREBIRD program. Picture: supplied

The FIREBIRD satellites are due to begin transmitting* data* to La Trobe’s Remote Sensing Research Group at the university’s Bundoora campus, in Melbourne, later this year.

Dr Moar said members of the German Aesospace Center (called DLR) previously visited La Trobe and came away impressed, wanting to continue the relationship.

Dr Moar said the FIREBIRD project is part of an ongoing partnership with the German group.

“In November 2015, La Trobe Engineering teamed up with DLR on the Earth Sensing Image Spectrometer (DESIS) project to develop the planet’s sharpest camera.

“Our work on the DESIS project is nearing completion and will be delivered to NASA, Kennedy Space Centre in California in November 2017, for prospective launch in February 2018.

Dr Moar said based on the team’s excellent work to date, La Trobe had been asked to expand the team working on the project and prepare for future developments.

GLOSSARY

remote: from a distance

inclusion: including of

additional: extra

basis: start, or foundation

equivalent: equal to

resolution: how detailed the images are

currently: now

capability: is capable of, or able to

infra-red technology: a different type of energy to what we can usually see. Most thermal radiation, or heat, around normal room temperature or body temperature, is infra-red

transmitting: sending

data: information

LISTEN TO TODAY’ STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

Activity 1: FIREBIRD

Prepare a script for a news bulletin on the FIREBIRD satellite program. The script should include a summary of the program, why it’s important/interesting and be less than two minutes when read aloud. If time permits get a class mate to film you reading your script like a news reporter on an iPad, laptop or computer.

Extension: List the Australian companies involved in this project and explain their roles.

Time: Allow 30 minutes to complete this task.

Curriculum links: English, Science

Activity 2: Saving Lives

How will the FIREBIRD satellite program help save lives?

Fill out the table below to outline your answers.

TECHNOLOGY HOW WILL IT SAVE LIVES?

Extension: List some other possible ideas or inventions to help stop bushfires before they cause too much damage.

Time: Allow 30 minutes to complete this task.

Curriculum links: English, Science, Design & Technologies, Digital Technologies, Critical & Creative thinking

VCOP Activity:

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)

Activity 1: Technical words

There are a lot of technical words in this story. Make a list of these words, and then group them based on how many syllables each one has. Which words had the most syllables?

Extension: How many 3 letter or more words can you make using the letters from the word meteorology?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP

Activity provided by Andrell Education– www.andrelleducation.com.au

EXTRA RESOURCES

HOW TO LIVE TOGETHER ON MARS

RETURN TO EARTH

MARS MOVE AROUND CORNER

MISSION’S FIRST JUPITER PICTURES

NINE NEW PLANETS COULD SUSTAIN LIFE

IN A SENTENCE, SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TODAY’S STORY

Kids News loves reading your best punctuation, grammar and vocabulary.

Great comments go up on Kids News for others to see!

Extra Reading in news