Smoke plumes from fires, volcanoes, and pollution are all reaching high into the atmosphere and can therefore very easily be detected from space. Most recently, Astronaut Karen Nyberg shot a photograph of fires around Darwin and Melville Island, Australia, on August 5, 2013, while looking west across the Timor Sea from the International Space Station (ISS). She also took a photo looking straight down on the fires.
NASA's Aqua satellite with its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) has acquired an image in Kimberly region on 10 April 2013, Australia showing dozens of managed fires. All of the fires were south and west of the Isdell River; some were burning in and near Windjana Gorge National Park, a popular tourist destination.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured an image showing the large bush fires burning in eastern New South Wales, Australia, on 9 January 2013. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires.
Australia became an international collaborator on the new US-satellite mission Landsat 8, under an agreement signed on 12 July 2012 with the United States Geological Survey. Landsat 8, the latest in the series of Landsat satellites, is expected to launch in January 2013.