NASA satellite tracks explosion of California’s Devil Wind wildfires

NASA said today its satellites are turning out images that illustrate how quickly wildfires have spread throughout Southern California. Powerful Santa Ana winds have fueled more than 10 large wildfires stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego.  According to the National Interagency Fire Center, these blazes have burned more than 84,000 acres since they began over the weekend.  Over 250,000 thousand residents have been evacuated from their homes in and Around San Diego. A state of emergency has been issued seven California counties.  Pair of images in particular show the area around Los Angeles on October 21, and show how the fires exploded in a matter of hours.  More than a dozen fires, driven by gale-force Santa Ana or “Devil Winds” winds, burned out of control across the drought-stricken southern half of the state, quickly charring about 200,000 acres, killing one person and injuring a number of others. With fire crews and state emergency services overwhelmed, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said 1,500 National Guard troops had been summoned, including 200 from the Mexican border, to help with firefighting, evacuations and crowd control, according to a Reuters repost.  NASA’s Aqua earth science satellite took the photos and will continue to monitor the situation. NASA launched Aqua on May 4, 2002.  According to NASA, the satellite has six different Earth-observing instruments on board and is named for the large amount of information being obtained about water in the Earth system from its stream of approximately 89 Gigabytes of data a day.  Like its twin flying aboard NASA's Terra satellite -- launched in 1999 -- Aqua sees almost the entire surface of our planet every day in 36 channels ranging from visible to thermal infrared wavelengths. On a daily basis, Terra descends across the equator at 10:30 a.m. in every time zone, while Aqua ascends across the equator at 1:30 p.m. in every time zone, NASA said.  Other NASA satellites have captures startling images recently.  NASA recently crowed that  one of its satellites captured the image of a solar hurricane ripping off the tail of a passing comet. The resulting collision saw the complete detachment of the plasma tail of Encke's comet, which was traveling within the orbit of Mercury, NASA said.  

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