NASA partners with forest service to highlight wildfires, science

Source(s)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

RELEASE: 12-224

Houston
-- NASA and the U.S. Forest Service signed a Space Act  Agreement this week that unites the two agencies in raising awareness about the importance of fire prevention and fire safety.  This partnership will highlight areas of common interest in wildfires,  forest and plant growth research and materials science. The joint  effort will be enhanced by the personal interest of astronaut Joe  Acaba, a flight engineer currently aboard the International Space  Station. Acaba is an avid outdoorsman who has focused much of his  career on the environment.

He selected Smokey Bear, the forest  service's mascot, as the zero-gravity indicator and talisman for his  Soyuz flight to the orbiting laboratory last month.  "I've always enjoyed the outdoors and our natural environment," said  Acaba. "When you view our planet from space, it only makes you  appreciate it more. I hope that sharing my experiences aboard the  space station will help others understand the importance of  protecting our planet and protecting ourselves from Earth's natural  tendencies."

Throughout the human spaceflight program, imagery of Earth has been a  valuable asset to researchers on the ground. The dramatic views of  smoke plumes and fire damage to communities from 240 miles above  bring unparalleled perspectives of the effects of wildfire and the value of careful forestry resource management to people around the  world. The images also help firefighters combat fires more  effectively and help researchers learn about wildfire behavior and  patterns.

Acaba and his station crewmates recorded high-resolution video and  photographs June 28 of the wildfires now active in Colorado and Utah. These videos can be viewed on NASA's website at:  http://go.nasa.gov/NXyttH

Crew observations and imagery of the Earth from space are just some  areas that will be emphasized. Space station experiments that focus  on improved understanding of plant growth and physiology, as well as  combustion and materials science, also will have a prominent role in  related outreach opportunities and events.

NASA and the U.S. Forest Service have worked together for decades in  many areas of research and technology development, and the forest  service provided invaluable assistance to NASA during recovery  operations following the loss of space shuttle Columbia in the  heavily wooded areas of East Texas.

For more information regarding NASA's partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/NHAlDd
For Acaba's complete biography, visit:  http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/acaba-jm.html
For more information about International Space Station research,  operations and crews, visit:  http://www.nasa.gov/station

Joshua Buck
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1100
jbuck@nasa.gov
Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111

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