Wildfires ravage property and shatter lives. In 2018, the Camp Fire, the most destructive fire in California history, devastated whole communities, and investigators implicated power lines in touching off the blaze.

In 2019, the Kincade Fire burned over 77,000 acres in Sonoma County. A jumper cable snapped off a power-transmission tower and ignited the inferno.

The conflagrations continued in 2021 with the Dixie Fire in Northern California. Over 1 million acres and 1300 homes were taken by the flames. Once again, power equipment gave rise to tragedy.


The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA)

A satellite fleet forms the foundation of the NOAA’s ability to forecast weather. However, the sensors in space allow it to do so much more. In 2020, data from satellites facilitated the rescue of 304 people. These represented:

  • 217 water rescues.
  • 12 aviation incident rescues.
  • 74 land rescues.

The event locations ranged from Alaska to Florida.

The NOAA’s satellites form a substantial part of the global Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System known as COSPAT-SARSAT. It uses both U.S. and international spacecraft to detect distress signals from beacons worldwide.

Rescues include victims of natural disasters. In 2020, COSPAT-SARSAT helped retrieve four people from a boat impacted by Tropical Storm Sally, 60 miles off the Florida coast.

Since its launch in 1982, COSPAT-SARSAT has supported 48,000 rescues worldwide, including 9,400 in the U.S. Yet, satellites can do more than trigger responses to beacons.


Satellites monitor earthquakes and volcanoes

CubeSat Imaging Radar for Earth Sciences (CIRES) is a recently developed satellite system. CIRES carries a form of radar that can see through vegetation and other ground-level interference sources.

A CIRES satellite works by passing the same point twice in a given time. As it passes, it measures whether the height of the ground changes. Sudden variations warn of earthquakes and other seismic activity in the area.

CIRES satellites need not be alone in their tasks. They can be programmed to work with larger satellites to capture more data. By combining capabilities, satellites stand a greater chance of detecting earthquakes and volcanoes before they hit.


Looking ahead

Satellite capabilities continue to grow, providing lifesaving services for the earthbound. Contact X2nSAT to learn more.

About the Author

Cara is the marketing coordinator at X2nSat. She's a social media maverick, a content genius, and an author in her spare time. Writing and marketing are her true passions.