The BIROS and TET-1 satellites: Fire magnifiers for the FireBIRD missionBIROS is the second satellite of the FireBIRD mission. The main payload is a highly sensitive infrared camera system equipped with 'fire magnifiers' that, like its 'brother' satellite TET-1, can be used as an early fire warning system and for climate research from space.
Forest fires and fires in savannah regions are increasing in frequency and severity across the world. According to rough estimates, between 20 and 25 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions are caused by forest fires and other uncontrolled fires. Even though some of the carbon dioxide released is bound in the regrowth of the biomass, the majority of the carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for decades in the course of climate change. It is expected that the frequency of forest fires will accelerate even more in future due to increasing temperatures resulting from climate change.
The fire magnifiers – fire under the microscope
The FireBIRD mission uses the two TET-1 (Technologie-Erprobungsträger 1;Technology Experiment Carrier 1) and BIROS (Bi-spectral InfraRed Optical System) satellites to detect high temperature events on Earth’s surface. They can also precisely capture small, low energy events thanks to the sensitivity of the sensors and the high precision and resolution. These might include heat irregularities such as volcanoes, burning ships, industry hotspots, gas flares, chemical heat generation and smouldering fires.
Before FireBIRD, fire detection relied on data from global Earth observation satellites. However, the resolution was relatively slow and only detected around 50 percent of fire events. The FireBIRD mission should not only detect changes in the surface temperature, but also enable knowledge of aerosols from forest fires and their effects on the weather and climate to be derived.
Because of the precision of the data, FireBIRD can both act as a fire early warning system and make an important contribution to climate research. The aim of the research is to improve the investigation of climate change as a result of carbon dioxide emissions caused by humans and be able to make better forecasts. The principal payload on the two FireBIRD satellites is infrared cameras that meet this requirement.
The advantage of heat sensors over purely visual systems is the lack of reliance on the weather and visibility conditions. Whether it is night-time, or the ground is hidden beneath smoke and ash clouds, the FireBIRD orbiters can deliver reliable location and measurement data – almost in real time thanks to the fast broadband data transfer and processing.
Ten for one mission
From Neustrelitz in north-east Germany to Weilheim in Upper Bavaria, ten DLR institutes and facilities at seven DLR sites have been and are participating with the BIROS satellite for the FireBIRD science and technology mission:
- German Remote Sensing Data Center (Deutsches Fernerkundungsdatenzentrum - DFD), as part of the DLR Earth Observation Center association of institutes (Neustrelitz and Oberpfaffenhofen) DLR Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology (Göttingen)
- DLR Institute of Communication and Navigation (Oberpfaffenhofen)
- DLR Institute of Optical Sensor Systems (Berlin)
- DLR Institute of Space Systems (Bremen)
- DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics (Oberpfaffenhofen)
- DLR Institute for System Dynamics and Control (Oberpfaffenhofen)
- DLR Institute of Technical Physics (Stuttgart)
- DLR Spaceflight Operations and Astronaut Training - GSOC (Oberpfaffenhofen)
- DLR Simulation and Software Technology (Braunschweig)
Melanie-Konstanze WieseCorporate Communications, Berlin, Neustrelitz, Dresden, Jena and Cottbus/ZittauGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)
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FireBIRD monitors forest fires in CaliforniaEmergency services in the US state of California are still fighting fierce forest fires. Severe drought and strong winds have allowed the fires to spread. The FireBIRD (Fire Bispectral InfraRed Detector) mission run by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) consists of a pair of satellites – TET-1 (Technology Experiment Carrier) and BIROS (Bispectral Infrared Optical System).
Fire disaster in Chile – ZKI uses FireBIRD to deliver situational informationExpansive forest fires have raged through Chile for some weeks now due to a long dry spell. On 25 January 2017, the Chilean National Office for Emergency (Oficina Nacional de Emergencia del Ministerio del Interior; ONEMI) activated the International Charter Space and Major Disasters to obtain up-to-date situation images of the disaster area to assist emergency services.
BIROS demonstrates autonomous rendezvous in space using only image dataFor the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have demonstrated in a real space experiment how a satellite can approach a counterpart by fully autonomously, making use of only optical or vision-based navigation.
Rendezvous with a satelliteA unique experiment – with a very special goal – has been devised by the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). The AVANTI experiment (Autonomous Visual Approach Navigation and Target Identification) is intended to demonstrate how a satellite can detect a spacecraft in space and approach it autonomously.
DLR fire detection satellite BIROS successfully releases BEESAT-4 picosatellite into spaceOn 9 September 2016 at 13:00 CEST, the BIROS (Bi-Spectral Infrared Optical System) fire detection satellite developed and built by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) released BEESAT-4 (Berlin Educational and Experimental Picosatellite) into space 515 kilometres above the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago.
BIROS fire detection satellite successfully launched into spaceOn 22 June 2016 at 05:55 CEST, the BIROS (Bi-Spectral Infrared Optical System) microsatellite was successfully launched into space from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India on board a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Peering through smoke – DLR satellite TET-1 delivers detailed images of the fires in IndonesiaIndonesia is on fire – the island state is currently facing a bitter struggle against forest and peat fires on Sumatra and Borneo, most likely caused by illegal 'slash and burn' farming to clear the land for palm oil or timber plantations. The extremely dry conditions resulting from the El Niño weather phenomenon exacerbate this problem.