Tuesday Sep 06, 2022

E.06 with Dr. Joshua Johnston

Joining us in this episode is Dr. Josh Johnston. He is the Principal Investigator for the WildFireSat mission, and a career wildland firefighter. Why is managing fire important? The truth is that fire isn’t always a bad thing. The fire is a natural means of keeping the forest healthy and actually plays a large role in stimulating new growth. 

That said, getting too close to the fire or having too much of it can be dangerous. Sometimes fire management is about suppression, sometimes fires need to be started, and sometimes they simply need to be left alone. In instances where people are around, the objective is to put them out as fast as possible.

The WildFireSat is the world’s first purpose-built fire monitoring mission via satellite. Prior to this, the science revolved around general purpose missions. This one is specifically for fire management, and it’s a uniquely Canadian endeavor. This allows for effective tracking of fires, which will play an even more important role as the world experiences climate change. 

While imagery is nice to have, analysis and a breakdown of what a fire is doing—and what it is likely to do next—is more important than the visual asset. These analytics will be embedded in forthcoming products. This technology collects information regarding the landscape and classifies the threat of the fire. Decision makers who have to make a choice based upon this data will benefit the most from interpreting this data.

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