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  • FIRE Monitoring Constellation for Australia within the German FIREBIRD Mission

    Paper number



    Dr. Winfried Halle, DLR (German Aerospace Center), Germany


    Mr. Ingo Walter, DLR (German Aerospace Center), Germany


    Dr. Andreas Eckardt, DLR (German Aerospace Center), Germany


    Dr. Christian Fischer, DLR (German Aerospace Center), Germany


    Mr. Gary Quinn, ESS Weathertech, Australia


    Dr. Moar Peter, La Trobe University, Austria



    Fire is one the major controlling agents in determining vegetation and landscape structure  of different  ecosystems throughout the world (Bond, Woodward and Midgley 2005). Each year a  vast amount of biomass are burning worldwide affecting large areas. These fires are damaging local to regional ecologies, farming and plantation areas for food production and economies and infrastructure, as well as increasing the risk to human health and safety. Especially in  Australia, South America, South Africa fires in populated and unpopulated areas often raged out of control. 
    Remote Sensing techniques from satellites have made considerable progress in  detection, monitoring and assessment of (wildland) fires worldwide.  So called Fire Disturbance Essential Climate Variables (ECV), which consists of the variables Burned Area, Active Fire and Fire Radiative Power (FRP), can be derived directly from  remote sensing systems.  
    The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has implemented the so called FIREBIRD Mission in orbit. It is a constellation of two satellites, the TET (Technology ErprobungsTräger - launched 2012) and the BIROS  satellite sensor system (Bispectral Infrared Optical System- launched in 2016), both are heritage of the BIRD (Bi-Spectral and Infrared Remote Detection) sensor system, that has been launched in 2001 already. These two satellites are equipped with a dedicated IR–Sensor system especially for the detection and analysis of small fires.
    In this paper  a concept   to extend  the German FIREBIRD Mission with an additional  satellite called AIROS (AustralianInfraredOpticalSystem) is proposed. Based on the space-proven small satellite bus system (BIRD, TET, BIROS) this satellite will utilize updated German IR-detector technologies, thereby  reducing on-board resourcing demands while enhancing the instruments overall performance.     
    The data- mission concept includes a downlink and processing facility in Australia for the 3  satellites.    This paper also will present the first test results of the data downlink of the FIREBIRD Mission (TET and BIROS) over Australia  and  data processing examples of fire relevant   ECVs,  combined with the  Geoscience Australia’s Sentinel Hotspots System. FIREBIRD  infrared data has “fire-magnifying-glass” capabilities in comparison to the HIMAWARI-8  and MODIS, since it provides significantly higher resolution and higher sensitivity than these commonly used satellites. The paper will also describe the development of a custom feed designed to be fitted to commercial groundstations. It is based  of an offset configuration, providing S-band capability to existing antennas allowing  direct reception of the FIREBIRD downlink.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-17,B1,1,3,x40099.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.