Using a pair of Earth-monitoring satellites, NASA has recorded tens of millions of fires that burned throughout the past decade.
NASA took the 10 years of data collected since 2002 and created animated visualizations (above). The videos show the ebbs and flows of Earth from space including its vegetation, snow cover, cloud cover, surface temperatures, oceans, fires and more.
The fire data show the United States was home to just 2 percent of the world’s fires. Africa, meanwhile, was the most fiery continent.
Africa contributed 70 percent of the world’s blazes over the years, including both natural and man-made conflagrations. (A very large cluster of agricultural- and lightning-sparked fires in African savanna lands, for example, can be seen from July through September 2006.)
Data came from the Terra satellite, launched in 1999, and the Aqua satellite, launched in 2002. Each spacecraft carries a special instrument called a MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, which monitors a rainbow of different wavelengths of light emitted by or bounced off our host planet.
Both satellites have sun-synchronous orbits to keep the direction of sunlight the same at all times throughout the year, allowing them to image the entire surface of Earth every one to two days.
Starting with a global tour, this gallery of NASA videos shows the satellites’ MODIS fire data collected July 2002 through July 2011.
All videos: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio