July 31, 2014
NASA is flying an unmanned aircraft outfitted with high-tech imaging equipment to help firefighters battling wildfires raging across Southern California.
The Ikhana aircraft, a Predator B modified for civil science and research missions, took off from Edwards Air Force Base north of Los Angeles Wednesday morning on a 10-hour mission.
Pilots at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center will remotely control the aircraft, which is expected to provide images of fires from Lake Arrrowhead to as far south as San Diego County near the Mexican border.
The Ikhana carries a thermal-infrared imaging system capable of seeing through thick smoke to locate hotspots.
The images will be processed on-board and transmitted to firefighters on the ground to help them move crews to burning areas.