The MASTER instrument aboard NASA’s ER-2 high-altitude science aircraft captured this infrared image of the Powerhouse wildfire in the Angeles National Forest near the town of Lake Hughes, Calif., during a nighttime flight May 31-June 1.
The MASTER composite image shows the intensity of the heat from the fire in different colors, with the hottest part of the wildfire appearing bluish-white in this image.
This image is a color composite of three infrared bands ñ red, green and blue ñ from the MASTER instrument with a pixel resolution is 50 meters (164 feet). The image was taken when the fire had burned approximately 5,000 acres of brush and chaparral. The wildfire eventually blackened more than 32,500 acres, destroyed at least five homes and damaged at least 15 other structures before it was finally contained several days later.
At the time this image was taken, the fire was still primarily confined to the ridges and canyons southwest of San Fransisquito Canyon, and was moving to the southwest. It’s point of origin was along the west side of the road, just across from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s San Fransisquito Canyon Powerhouse No. 1, where the road makes a horseshoe curve that is visible in the lower right of the image.
The winds shifted June 1, the fire reversed course and surged to the north, crossing Lake Hughes Canyon Road, sweeping across the town of Lake Hughes (upper center of image) where several homes were destroyed, and up across Portal Ridge. It jumped the California Aqueduct branch about 20 miles west of the city of Lancaster and scorched thousands of additional acres in the Antelope Valley area (at top of image) by Sunday afternoon before its spread was halted on Monday. Lake Elizabeth is visible near the upper right and the California Aqueduct branch is visible as an undulating red line at the top of the image.
The MASTER instrument, also known as the MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator, was developed for the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) projects. ASTER and MODIS are both spaceborne imaging instruments aboard the Terra satellite.
The MASTER instrument is operated by the Airborne Sensor Facility at NASA’s Ames Research Center for the Earth Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.