The US Forest Service will put NASA’s unmanned Ikhana aircraft, which is equipped with an infrared sensor, on emergency standby during fire season this summer. Ikhana is better than imaging satellites because it can see through smoke and transmit data that has been laid over Google maps live to crews on the ground.
NASA’s Ikhana is a Predator B unmanned aircraft system built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. The plane has been adapted for environmental science and technology research missions. Every flight is coordinated with the FAA coordinate the flights of the remotely piloted aircraft in the national airspace in order to assure safety.