NASA Satellites Track Waning Smoke from Las Conchas, N.M. Fire
From July 1 to July 5, 2011, two NASA satellites captured images of the Las Conchas fire burning near Los Alamos, New Mexico that showed the amount of smoke had waned over that time.
NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites are both equipped with an instrument called the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Aqua's MODIS captured images on July 1 at 20:35 UTC (4:35 p.m. EDT) (Left); and July 5 at 20:10 UTC (4:10 p.m. EDT) (Right). Terra's MODIS caught an image of the Las Conchas smoke on July 2 at 18:00 UTC (2:00 p.m. EDT) (center).
Over the period of July 1 through July 5 the quantity of smoke (light brown) appeared to be greatest on July 2. By July 5, the amount of smoke was just a fraction of that seen on the second. Firefighting efforts have now provided a 30 percent containment of the fire.
On July 5, 2011, the New Mexico Highway Patrol opened New Mexico's State Highway 4 at ten o'clock at night. Additionally, the Los Alamos National Laboratory reopened to employees on the morning of July 6, 2011.
On July 6, 2011, Inciweb reported that 130,691 acres have been affected by the Las Conchas fire. Inciweb, the "Incident Information System" website, (www.inciweb.org) is an interagency all-risk incident information management system.
Inciweb reported that "Large plumes of smoke were visible (on July 6) from the communities of Santa Clara, Chicoma Mountain, Los Alamos, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, and surrounding areas (all not threatened). Pilots reported 300-500 foot flames moving up the Polvadera Peak, which is north of Road 108 and northwest of Chicoma Mountain."
For a complete listing of area closures and restrictions and progress in firefighting efforts, visit:http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2385/.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Rob Gutro