Posted on June 7th, 2022

Our Changing Landscape – The 2022 Wears Valley Wildfire

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium-resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery. The PlanetScope constellation dates back to 2016 and collects hundreds of millions of square kilometers of 4, 5 and 8-band 3-meter imagery daily! Last month we checked out the sinking of a ship in the Persian Sea, and for this June edition of Our Changing Landscape we head back to the United States to the location of a recent wildfire in Tennessee, the Wears Valley Wildfire.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope imagery collected over the Wear Valley, Tennessee region on March 27, April 2 and April 10, 2022. In these three slides, you can see how close the Wears Valley Wildfire came to the denser parts of the city; and in the April 2nd image you can even see active fires in the northeast. The April 10th image captures the full extent of the fire damage that we detected in the 3-meter PlanetScope imagery. So, yes indeed, the 3-m PlanetScope constellation was able to image this smaller wildfire while tending to its normal load of collections, impressive! (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2022)

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

PlanetScope is a constellation of more than 240 microsats (as of January 2022) referred to individually as Doves. Each Dove is able to collect up to 20,000 square kilometers (sq km) per day of 3-meter (m) 4-band multispectral (i.e. blue, green, red and near-infrared [NIR]) imagery; and newly launched SuperDoves collect 8-band multispectral adding in valuable red-edge spectral data. Across the constellation, PlanetScope is archiving more than 200 million sq km of medium-resolution imagery a day, making it the go to source for daily imagery over most locations. This massive archive dates back to 2016, offering the most complete and continuous record of spatial data on the planet since the start of the constellation’s ongoing launch schedule. Collecting 3-meter multispectral imagery is the equivalent of ‘high-resolution’ multispectral data imaged by a 75-centimer (cm) satellite (as this satellite would feature 75-cm panchromatic and 3-m multispectral), making PlanetScope an extremely competitively priced option at just $1.80 per sq km. With well registered images and nearly daily collections of most locations, PlanetScope is the ideal imagery source for this current-events focused series, Our Changing Landscape.

The 2022 Wears Valley Wildfire

Wears Valley is located in eastern Tennessee about 20 miles southeast of Knoxville, deep in the Great Smoky Mountains. On March 30th, a wildfire started burning on Hatcher Mountain which is just to the north of Wears Valley. Fueled by dry conditions, the Wears Valley wildfire burned 2,500 acres, impacting some 219 human-made structures. Thankfully the fire was 100% contained by April 5th and no deaths were linked to it. And while this is a smaller natural disaster than we typically focus on in this series, it is an interesting test of the collection capacity of the 3-m PlanetScope constellation to see if it was able to image the location in a timely fashion while still focusing on other regions around the blaze. So now it is time to turn to the PlanetScope archive to see what we could find.

If you would like to find out more about using 3-meter PlanetScope imagery for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at [email protected] or (303) 993-3863.

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