July 24, 2014
NASA and the U.S. Forest Service says a remotely piloted Predator B aircraft has begun flights over the West to test technology for real-time imaging and mapping of wildfires.
On August 16th, it made a ten-hour flight over the vast Zaca Fire that has burned since July 4th in Los Padres National Forest northwest of Los Angeles, and it's scheduled to make a 20-hour flight over Idaho tomorrow.
The Predator's sensor collects thermal-infrared imagery and a satellite link allows real-time transmission of the data.
NASA says it spent six months obtaining authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly the unmanned wildfire-sensing missions over western states.