FIRMS users routinely leverage active fire detection data derived from MODIS and VIIRS. These sensors are onboard polar-orbiting satellites and provide a “snapshot” of fire activity at the time of satellite overpass for a given geographic area. Polar-orbiting observations by each individual MODIS and VIIRS sensor are conducted once to twice daily in the equatorial region of the globe and as many as eight times daily in the very high latitudes. What if you want multiple observations and updates on detected fire activity every hour? Geostationary satellites sensors can meet that need.

Unlike polar-orbiting satellite sensors, geostationary satellites sensors stay at a fixed point above the equator and follow the Earth’s daily rotation on its axis. Their orbits are 45-50 times higher than MODIS, VIIRS and Landsat sensors which operate in an orbit about 700 to 800 km above the Earth’s surface. These characteristics allow geostationary satellite sensors to move with the Earth’s rotation and persistently observe a very large portion of the Earth’s surface centered on their location.

GOES 16 (GOES East) coverage spans approximately 160o in both longitudinal and latitudinal directions.

GOES 16 (GOES East) coverage spans approximately 160o in both longitudinal and latitudinal directions.

Several geostationary platforms and sensors are designed to support meteorological observations and have spectral bands that span the visible, near infrared, and thermal infrared. These capabilities also enable them to support the detection and monitoring of fire activity. Additionally, geostationary sensors provide outstanding temporal resolution acquiring imagery for their entire field of view at 10-15 minute intervals or better. This enables geostationary sensors to potentially detect more fire events and capture their growth and change, particularly in between fire detection observations conducted by sensors on polar-orbiting platforms. However, geostationary sensors have a much coarser spatial resolution than polar-orbiting sensors and can be less sensitive to detecting relatively smaller fires.

Active fire detection data from five geostationary sensors are available in FIRMS and collectively provide global coverage. Two geostationary satellites, GOES-16 and GOES-18, are operated by NOAA and provide coverage for the western hemisphere. The other three satellites, Himawari-8, Meteosat 9 and Meteosat 11, are operated by JAXA and EUMETSAT and provide coverage for the eastern hemisphere and a substantial portion of the western hemisphere. Overlapping coverage is also provided by adjacent sensor fields of view. General information about the geostationary satellites used in FIRMS and their associated sensors, fire detection algorithms and derivative product information are summarized below.

Spatial coverage of geostationary satellites used in FIRMS (Ceamanos et al., 2021).

Spatial coverage of geostationary satellites used in FIRMS (Ceamanos et al., 2021).


GOES-16, GOES-18

GOES-16, GOES-18

Meteosat 9 & 11



Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) / Fire Detection and Characterization (FDC-HSC)

Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) / Fire Radiative Power (FRP-PIXEL)

Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infra-Red Imager (SEVIRI) / Fire Radiative Power (FRP-PIXEL)

Advanced Himawari Imager (AHI) / Fire Radiative Power (FRP-PIXEL)

Satellite Source Agency





Data Source


Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA) under Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS)

EUMETSAT Land Surface Analysis Applications Facility (LSA SAF)

IPMA under Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS)

Coverage and Satellite Locations

Americas East and West

GOES-16: 0o, -75.2o

GOES-18: 0o, -137.2o

Americas East and West

GOES-16: 0o, -75.2o

GOES-18: 0o, -137.2o

Europe, Africa and Asia

Meteosat 9 (IODC): 0o, 45.5o, Meteosat 11: 0o, 0o

Asia and Australia

Himawari 8: 0o, 140o

More Information/Product User Manual (PUM)

NOAA GOES-R Series Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) Level 2 Fire / Hot Spot Characterization (FDC) - Datasets

GOES FDC User Guide

FRP: GOES-R and Himawari Satellites PUM

See Xu et al. (2021)

Fire Radiative Power Pixel (FRPPIXEL, LSA-502)

See Wooster et al. (2015): See Roberts et al. (2015)

FRP: GOES-R and Himawari Satellites PUM

See Xu et al. (2021)


Filtered Fire Detection and Characterization (FDC-HSC) algorithm (provisional) (Schmidt et al., 2013). See: Why are the geostationary fire data filtered in FIRMS?

Geostationary Fire Thermal Anomaly (FTA) algorithm & FRP retrieval developed by King’s College, London. See Xu et al. (2021)

Geostationary Fire Thermal Anomaly (FTA) algorithm & FRP retrieval developed by King’s College, London. See Wooster et al. (2015)

Geostationary Fire Thermal Anomaly (FTA) algorithm & FRP retrieval developed by King’s College, London. See Xu et at. (2017)

Summary of geostationary satellites, sensors, algorithms and products used for active fire detection in FIRMS.

Here are two important considerations when using active fire detection data from geostationary satellites:  1) The coarse spatial resolution of geostationary satellites should be taken into consideration; the spatial resolution sub-nadir (i.e. directly below the satellite) is between 2-3Km for the different geostationary satellites (compared to 1Km, 375m, and 30m for MODIS, VIIRS, and Landsat respectively). An active fire could be located anywhere within that 2-3Km pixel. 2), Distortion in the pixel size of geostationary satellites increases towards the poles. This change in pixel size for the GOES-16 geostationary satellite is shown in the figure below. (To view the pixel sizes for the other geostationary satellites visit the FIRMS FAQ What is the spatial resolution of the geostationary satellite observations?)

Credit: Cullingworth and Mueller, 2021;

Due to technical and environmental factors, active fire detection outputs from the current generation of geostationary algorithms can be prone to significant errors of commission and/or omission. Consequently, FIRMS considers all geostationary data as provisional or beta, and filters detections to display only those at the higher levels of detection confidence for each product. The filtered geostationary active fire detection data layers from each sensor/algorithm are available under the GEOSTATIONARY section of the Fire / Hotspots group in the FIRMS legend. They are accessible with the Advanced Mode selected. Each geostationary active fire detection layer is named by the source satellite and providing agency (see each layer’s information summary for more details). Additionally, for user convenience, the outputs for GOES FDC-HSC, Meteosat FRP-PIXEL and Himawari FRP-PIXEL algorithms are grouped into a single layer called Filtered Geostationary (provisional).

GOES ABI and Himawari AHI active fire detection data at 2km resolution are observed every 10 minutes throughout a 24-hour period while Meteosat SEVIRI active fire detection data at 3km resolution are observed every 15 minutes. This global harmonized, multi-sensor data stream is enabled by an automated framework developed by the University of Maryland under the auspices of the NASA Applied Sciences Program. All the sources of geostationary active fire detection data are available in FIRMS approximately 30 minutes or less post-observation. Users are advised to note that two active fire detection data products from GOES ABI imagery and derived from separate algorithms are provided in FIRMS.

Geostationary active fire detection layers in FIRMS

The current versions of geostationary active fire detection algorithms are undergoing additional development, refinement, and tuning. FIRMS will provide outputs based on new or updated algorithms when they are introduced into operational production by the source agencies. Stay tuned for additional FIRMS blog entries with more information on the algorithms, products and characteristics for geostationary active fire detection data and caveats users should consider when utilizing these data in FIRMS.

This blog post was created by Colin Seftor, NASA GSFC

After experiencing the worst fire season on record last year and continuing to face extreme drought conditions in British Columbia, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories, Canada is bracing for what may be another year of severe fires.  Two pyrocumulonimbus (PyroCbs) have already been identified around Fort Nelson (one on 11 May and one on 13 May), and the continuing intensity and scale of the fires in the area have caused the evacuation of thousands of people. 

PyroCbs are “fire thunderstorms” that can lift large plumes of smoke high up into the air, often reaching the stratosphere.  The plumes can then travel long distances, affecting air quality in areas thousands of kilometers from their sources.   The location and movement of these smoke plumes are monitored using measurements from satellite instruments such as the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) aboard the NASA/NOAA Suomi-NPP, NOAA-20  and NOAA-21 satellites.  The OMPS instruments, while primarily designed to determine the amount of atmospheric ozone, can also be used to detect atmospheric aerosols such as volcanic ash, dust, and smoke.  One particular OMPS product, the Aerosol Index (AI), is extremely useful for monitoring and tracking the movement of such aerosols because it can detect them over any type of land surface (including ice) and over clouds.

In the figure below, AI measurements from the Suomi-NPP OMPS instrument are shown overlaid on Suomi-NPP Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) true-color imagery for May 11-15.  Higher AI values (shown in yellow) represent higher density (and altitude) smoke plumes. The images acquired on May 11 and 12 show smoke being transported to northern parts of the United States, significantly impacting air quality in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where air quality alerts were issuedLarge sections of eastern Canada were also heavily impacted.

Figure 1: S-NPP OMPS AI values overlaid on true-color imagery from S-NPP VIIRS for May 11-13.  Smoke from fires burning in western Canada, particularly from two pyroCbs (one on May 11 and one on May 13) can be seen to affect large areas over Canada and the northern US.

Because of its usefulness in both detecting and monitoring smoke from fires, particularly large scale fire events and pyroCbs, the S-NPP OMPS AI is now included as an overlay in NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) application, which provides near real-time active fire/hotspot locations using satellite-derived fire information to natural resource managers.  An example for May 11 is provided in the image and link below:

Figure 2: Screenshot of FIRMS US/Canada showing OMPS AI overlain on the Corrected Reflectance Imagery from S-NPP for May 11,2024. Active fire/hotspots are ovelain as red dots. See: NASA FIRMS US/Canada

Besides the S-NPP OMPS Aerosol Index, the AI measurements from the OMPS instruments on both the NOAA-20 (N-20) and NOAA-21 (N-21) satellites will be implemented in FIRMS later this year.  Both N-20 and N-21 AI measurements have the distinct advantage of being taken at a higher spatial resolution. The figure below shows the detail provided by the N-21 AI measurements for May 13 (right) when compared to the S-NPP AI (left).

Figure 3: Comparison of AI measurements from S-NPP (left) and NOAA-21 (right) OMPS instruments. AI products generated from N-21 have a higher spatial resolution (10km x 10km in the nadir direction - looking straight down from the spacecraft), which is 25 times more resolute than the (50km x 50km resolution) S-NPP AI products, providing a much greater level of detail for the smoke plumes.

NASA’s Fire information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) has recently introduced access to VIIRS active fire detection data from NOAA-21. Although NOAA-21 is intended to be the eventual replacement for S-NPP, this addition provides active fire detection data that complements the data already provided by the VIIRS instruments onboard S-NPP and NOAA-20. S-NPP currently has an anticipated end of life date of late 2026. The NOAA-21 active fire detection data are available in each of the new map modes in the FIRMS map viewer: BASIC MODE, ADVANCED MODE, BURNED AREA MODE, US/CANADA MODE and SMOKE/AEROSOL MODE.

The three currently available VIIRS instruments provide observations within approximately one hour of each another.  The orbit tracks and overpass times layers in the FIRMS map viewer can be used to ascertain the time of anticipated observation for each instrument at a given location. Additionally, the time of detection for the observed fire activity are available by clicking on the fire detection locations in the FIRMS map viewer. For example, in the map below, VIIRS active fire detection data are simultaneously displayed with customized colors and partial transparency to allow the overlapping detections from different the different VIIRS observation times to be easily discerned (please see the How to Customize the Fires Displayed in FIRMS blog post for directions on how to set user-defined colors for fire detection data).  VIIRS active fire detections by S-NPP (yellow) are detected at 17:53 UTC, NOAA-20 (orange) at 18:45 UTC and NOAA-21 (white) at 19:06 UTC. The new NOAA-21 VIIRS active fire detection data are also available from FIRMS as downloadable active fire data in CSV, Esri Shapefile and KMZ formats, OGC compliant web map services and web feature services, and archived data downloads. Users will soon be able to visualize true color and false color composite NOAA-21 VIIRS imagery in the FIRMS map viewer and generate custom subsets using WorldView Snapshots.

At the end of 2023, NASA’s Fire information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) released an expanded User Interface (UI) for both FIRMS Global and FIRMS US/Canada. The objectives of the expanded UI are to: 

  • Support an increasingly diverse set of users
  • Increase visibility/access to other FIRMS products/services
  • Maintain distinctive UIs for user levels, use cases & prototype products
  • Enhance ability to filter and visualize data

The expanded UI includes multiple modes, all accessible within the Main Menu. These include:

  • BASIC MODE: a concise interface containing essential layers to quickly identify and visualize current/recent fire activity and factors affecting satellite fire detection.
  • ADVANCED MODE: designed for those already versed in FIRMS, the ADVANCED MODE provides access to all the satellite imagery (including active fire data from geostationary satellites), other satellite data products and ancillary geospatial data available through FIRMS in order to visualize, explore and analyze for current and past fire activity.
  • BURNED AREA: provides satellite imagery and other derived satellite data products to detect, visualize, explore and analyze burned area.
  • US/CANADA: provides satellite imagery, and other satellite data products to visualize, explore and analyze current and past fire activity in the United States and Canada. Additional geospatial data available through FIRMS US/Canada inform and support strategic wildland fire management users.
  • SMOKE/AEROSOLS: provides satellite products useful for highlighting the extent of wildfire smoke, as well as tracking the transport of smoke.
  • EXPERIMENTAL (in progress): will provide new and/or prototype satellite data products for assessment and evaluation by the user community.
  • FIRE ALERTS: for users to sign up and receive email alerts about detected fire activity through FIRMS.
  • DOWNLOADS: provides users with access to archived data for review and download.

A Youtube video is available here which includes an overview of the Expanded UI, along with multiple demonstrations.

For more information on FIRMS see our Additional Resources Page.

FIRMS Blog Posts

NASA Earthdata Articles on FIRMS

The Big and Small of Fire in Africa 

Landsat Fire and Thermal Anomaly Data Added to FIRMS

FIRMS Adds Ultra Real-Time Data from MODIS and VIIRS

New HLS False Color Composite Layer Added to FIRMS

NASA, Forest Service Partnership Expands Active Fire Mapping Capabilities

Wildfires Can't Hide from Earth Observing Satellites

NASA FIRMS Helps Fight Wildland Fires in Near Real-Time

Orbiting Watchtowers

Earlier this year, we highlighted the availability of Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 Operational Land Imager (OLI) imagery in the FIRMS map viewers.  This imagery, provided by NASA's IMPACT project, enables a relatively high spatial resolution perspective of fire activity and post-fire effects. Similar to MODIS and VIIRS, we are now providing active fire data in FIRMS, generated from Landsat observations.

This new near real-time (NRT) Landsat Fire and Thermal Anomaly (LFTA) active fire product is the result of an ongoing collaboration by NASA LANCE/FIRMS, University of Maryland, USDA Forest Service and USGS EROS Data Center. The total elapsed time from satellite overpass to the availability of Landsat active fire detection data in FIRMS is 30 minutes or less. Users should note that these Landsat active fire detection data are provided much sooner than the Harmonized Landsat-Sentinel (HLS) imagery products, that are dynamically generated, and currently available in FIRMS approximately 2 days after acquisition.

Daily Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 OLI data for CONUS and most of Canada and Mexico are collected via direct readout by USGS EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  At the request of NASA and the USDA Forest Service, USGS developed a near real-time data processing framework that provides Level 1 terrain corrected Landsat OLI imagery. This data is subsequently processed using NASA science data processing algorithms to generate Level 2 30 meter resolution active fire data.  

How does Landsat active fire data compare with MODIS and VIIRS active fire data?

Landsat active fire data is more than 1,000 times more resolute than MODIS and more than 160 times more resolute than MODIS and VIIRS, respectively.  The algorithm routinely detects fires as small as a few square meters, or smaller, providing spatially explicit detail of location and extent of fire activity at the time of satellite overpass. Active fire fronts, as well as scattered smaller fires within the fire perimeter are routinely detected. However, these relatively high spatial resolution data have a lower temporal resolution compared to the daily observation frequency afforded by MODIS and VIIRS.  Between both Landsat OLI instruments, areas in the lower to mid latitudes are imaged every 8 days (please see the related NASA FIRMS blog entry that describes the characteristics of different satellite sensors and their effects on the spatial extent of daily active fire data). The temporal resolution of Landsat data can be increased though collection of nighttime Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 imagery for targeted areas when it can feasibly be done within the confines of current Landsat science and mission priorities.

Viewing the LFTA in FIRMS

The Landsat active fire data can be viewed in both FIRMS global and FIRMS US/Canada. The LFTA are displayed in Basic and Advanced Mode.

To display the Landsat active fire detections by time since detection, select the "Time Based" option.

To distinguish the Landsat active fire detections from other active fire detections (such as MODIS and VIIRS), select the "Advanced Mode" and "Custom" and select the "+" icon next to the fire detections you want to change. Select the drop down arrow to the right of the color and a color wheel will appear. Select a color and press apply.

For more information see the FIRMS blog entry on How to customize the fires displayed in FIRMS

A September 10, 2022 HLS Landsat 9 OLI false color composite image for the southern portion of the Double Creek Fire in northeast Oregon. In the top image, burned areas appear in dark red hues while both isolated and broadly burning areas appear bright orange-red. The bottom image highlights the 30-meter active fire detections (yellow) that correspond to actively burning areas.  Users should note that Landsat active fire detection data is available in FIRMS in near real-time approximately 30 minutes after acquisition while corresponding Landsat imagery is generated dynamically and available in FIRMS 2-3 days after acquisition.

With most sources of satellite remote sensing data, spatial resolution and temporal resolution are inversely related. In other words, as spatial resolution increases, temporal resolution decreases and vice versa. For example, the VIIRS sensor onboard S-NPP and NOAA-20 has a swath width of 3,000 kilometers and each instrument images the entire surface of the Earth at least once daily. The swath width of MODIS onboard Terra and Aqua is narrower at 2,330 km providing slightly less than daily global coverage. However, the finest spatial resolution of active fire detection data that can be gleaned from VIIRS and MODIS at 375 meters and 1 kilometer, respectively, are considered coarse resolution data by most definitions.

In comparison to VIIRS and MODIS, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) onboard both Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 provides active fire detections at relatively finer spatial resolution (30 meters) (please see the related NASA FIRMS blog entry that introduces the Landsat active fire product). Unlike VIIRS and MODIS, OLI has a much narrower swath width of 185 kilometers. The swath of OLI is less than 1/10th the width of a MODIS swath and provides much lower temporal resolution/sampling by comparison (Fig 1).

Figure 1 - Example of a 185 km Landsat 9 OLI swath (red) compared to a 2,330 km Terra MODIS swath (orange). Terra MODIS can easily image the entire continental US daily in three consecutive orbits. However, Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 OLI each require multiple orbits over 16 days to provide the same coverage.

How do these characteristics affect the daily availability of active fire data?

The relatively large swath widths of VIIRS and MODIS sensors provide comprehensive satellite observations and derived active fire detection data for the entire globe on a daily basis. Additionally, both sensors provide multiple observations daily within a relatively short period of time where consecutive swaths may overlap, more so at higher latitudes (Fig 2).

Figure 2 - Example of MODIS and VIIRS orbit tracks showing overlap between tracks, especially at higher latitudes.

Conversely, each Landsat OLI sensor requires 16 days to completely image the surface of the Earth. So, OLI cannot fully image large geographic areas in one day, such as the continental United States, and can only provide partial coverage. However, since the orbits of the two Landsat satellites are 8 days out of phase, the combined temporal resolution of the two OLI sensors enables complete coverage once every 8 days (Fig 3).

Figure 3 – The top graphic provides an example of the swath coverage for the continental US by OLI onboard Landsat 8 (orange) and Landsat 9 (red) on July 13, 2022. Orbits for each satellite move to the east and west daily and complete a full cycle of coverage every 16 days. The bottom graphic displays the HLS imagery product in FIRMS for July 13, 2022, which contains the acquired Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 imagery over land. Areas along each swath that exceed the predetermined cloud cover threshold are excluded from HLS product in FIRMS. The combined daily coverage of OLI on both Landsat satellites can image the entire continental US, and the globe, every 8 days.

When viewing daily active fire detection data in FIRMS, users should be aware of the high temporal resolution characteristics of VIIRS and MODIS versus Landsat. In Figure 4, active fires detected by Terra MODIS and Landsat on September 10, 2022, for the Pacific Northwest are provided. Landsat active fire detection data, displayed as yellow points, is only available within the 185-kilometer OLI swath. However, MODIS active fire detection data, displayed as red points, is available for the entire region within and outside of the OLI swath. Consequently, updates to the finer resolution Landsat active fire detection data for the entire Earth cannot be provided daily.

Figure 4 - Active fires detected in the Pacific Northwest on September 10, 2022. 1 kilometer MODIS active fire detections (red) are available for the entire region while 30-meter Landsat 9 active fire detections (yellow) are limited to the 185-kilometer swath (WRS-2 Path 42) acquired on this date.

The NASA Worldview Snapshots tool enables users to easily create satellite imagery subsets for anywhere in the world. The tool provides access to current and historical imagery captured by Terra and Aqua MODIS and S-NPP and NOAA-20 VIIRS. By simply selecting the desired image product, acquisition date, spatial resolution, output file type as well as entering the latitude/longitude bounding box, users can quickly generate an imagery subset to use for visualization in a GIS or as a graphic in a presentation or document.

For the convenience of users who need to create satellite imagery subsets of geopolitical units, Snapshots has recently been enhanced to include predefined latitude/longitude bounding boxes for countries. After setting the basic parameters for an imagery subset, users can simply select their desired country of interest from the Countries dropdown list in Country/Region Presets box below the map. The red box that subsequently appears on the map indicates the bounding box of the subset to be generated. Users can also increase the default size of the subset boundary extent by 5% to 20% by selecting the desired 5% interval under the Padding dropdown list or manually edit the predefined coordinates as desired in the Bounding Box section of the interface.

Users can also generate imagery subsets for a US state or Canadian province or territory. After selecting either of these two countries, a user can select the State / Province / Region dropdown list to update the subset bounding box extent to the targeted state, province or territory.

A September 9, 2022 Aqua MODIS true color composite image for Oregon generated from NASA Worldview Snapshots. The subset bounding box is defined by the map extent of the state, predefined in Snapshots, and extended by an additional 5% in both dimensions.


A screenshot of the Worldview Snapshots definition for an imagery subset of the state or Oregon. The updated interface enables users to select a country (as well as a US state and Canadian province/territory) and use its associated map extent as the bounding box coordinates for the subset boundary. If desired, users can increase the size of the predefined bounding box in 5% intervals or edit manually edit the coordinates.

Earlier this year, FIRMS integrated the Harmonized Landsat/Sentinel-2 (HLS) Imagery product. This data stream has recently been enhanced with the integration of Landsat 9 data. Users can now integrate HLS True Color and False Color Composite Imagery from Landsat 9 in addition to Landsat 8. Both Landsat instruments image every location on the Earth's surface at least every 16 days and their respective orbits are 8 days out of phase. As a result, they provide 8 day repeat coverage of any area on the globe. With the two Landsat instruments and two Sentinel-2 instruments, the HLS data stream allows for 30 meter land surface observations every 2-3 days.

HLS data services are made available by the NASA  Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) and can be visualized in FIRMS map viewers approximately 2-4 days after acquisition. Please see the April 2022 FIRMS blog post for additional information on the HLS data product and how to access it in FIRMS.

HLS false color composite image for the Moose Fire in northeast Idaho acquired by Landsat 8 on July 18, 2022 (top). The HLS false color image acquired on July 26, 2022 by Landsat 9 (bottom) illustrates the growth of the fire over that 8 day period. Note active fire areas in these images appear as glowing orange.

This blog shows you how to:

  • change the colors of the fires/thermal anomalies
  • change the fire pixel size
  • show only day or night detections
  • color code fires by Fire Radiative Power (FRP), Confidence or Time Since Detection


The default color for the MODIS and VIIRS thermal anomalies is red. There are times when it is useful to be able to distinguish between instruments (MODIS/VIIRS) or day/night detections. To do this Select ADVANCED MODE in the Layer List on the right of the map (see image below) 

Select the "+" icon next to the fire detections you want to change.

Select the drop down arrow to the right of the color and a color wheel will appear. Select a color and press apply.

This step can be repeated for other fire detection categories.


The fire pixel size defaults to the optimal display for the zoom level. When zoomed into the highest zoom levels, MODIS pixels maintain a size of approximately 1km and VIIRS approximately 375m

To change the pixel size, make sure ADVANCED MODE is selected (as shown above). Click the "+" icon and then click the drop down arrow next to the word "Auto"

Adjust the pixel size from the drop down list  


By default, the map shows both Day time and night time fires, to view only day time fires, may sure ADVANCED MODE is selected (as shown above). Click the "+" icon then click on "Night" to deselect it and it is greyed out. To view only nighttime fires, click on "Night" to turn both back on and then click on "Day" so it is greyed out. 


To view fires using Fire Radiative Power (FRP), Confidence or Time Since Detection, select "ADVANCED MODE" in the Layer List, then select the drop down arrow next to the word "Fires" for the fire detections you want to change.

Time Since Detection shows the fires < 1, 1-3, 3-6, 6-12, 12-24, and >24 Hours since the fires were detected by the satellite. Enable this by selecting "Time Based" in either Basic or Advanced Mode.

FIRMS recently integrated ultra real-time (URT) MODIS and VIIRS active fire data, within a minute of satellite observation, from multiple direct readout ground stations in the continental US (CONUS). 

See "FIRMS Adds Ultra Real-Time Data from MODIS and VIIRS" article on 

This is the first routine service provided by FIRMS for detecting wildfires over the continental United States from NASA and NOAA low-Earth orbit satellites with a latency of less than 60 seconds from Earth observation to wildfire detection. The ultra real-time processing has been made possible by the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with funding from NASA's WildFireSense program. Software systems enable the SSEC to stream direct broadcast data in real-time from each antenna to a central collection point at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, which then ingests and merges the data, including de-duplication of overlapping data, in real-time.

Currently URT data are received from Madison, Wisconsin (2 antennas), Hampton, Virginia and Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. In addition to the URT, Real-Time (RT) data are received from Honolulu, Hawaii and Monterey, California (after the pass is complete). Latency for RT data is 20—30 minutes. It is anticipated that the real-time data will be expanded to include additional CONUS stations and stations in Alaska and Hawaii. 

Figure showing current and planned coverage of Direct Broadcast
stations collecting ultra real-time and real-time data

URT and RT thermal anomaly / fire detections are processed using the LANCE FIRMS active fire algorithms, so the data are comparable with the NRT data from LANCE.

  • URT and RT data are available in both FIRMS and FIRMS US/Canada Fire maps and can be identified by the URT or RT suffix in the "version" - found by clicking on the fires to view the attributes.
  • URT and RT data are also available in the WMS and WFS map services and KMZs.
  • URT and RT data will roll off the system within six hours as the NRT data becomes available.

Screenshot showing URT fire detected on 2022/06/30.
The f
ire was observed at 12:17 CDT and displayed in FIRMS at 12:19 CDT
(as shown by computer time on top right of screen)

Users can see the real-time fire detections by selecting the Time Based option which color codes fires by Time Since Detection. However it is important to note that the URT and RT fires only show up within a minute of satellite fly-over so users need to know when the satellite passes overhead. To find our what time the satellite overpass is you can load the orbit tracks. (see next screenshot)

Screenshot showing descending overpass times from Suomi-NPP, NOAA-20, Aqua and Terra. These can be added by going to Advanced Mode and then selecting tracks from the Orbit Tracks and Overpass Times. 

Once you have the Orbit tracks loaded, make sure the fires display using the "Time-Based" option and the look for the deep red colored squares.

FIRMS fire map users have always had the opportunity to compile a map view using desired layers and then capture a screenshot and save it as a JPG, PNG or GIF file to use or share. Users now have the option of capturing a FIRMS map view as a GeoTIFF image file. The GeoTIFF format includes spatial (georeferencing) information embedded in the .tif file so it can be integrated and viewed with other geospatial data. The GeoTIFF standard is in the public domain and can be readily imported and displayed in many GIS applications. 


To create a GeoTIFF, click on the "screenshot" icon from the lower right of the FIRMS user interface and select "GeoTIFF" from the dropdown option in the screenshot window.

In collaboration with NASA's IMPACT project, dynamic false color imagery is now available through FIRMS to help better delineate burned areas. 

A screenshot from FIRMS US/Canada displaying the Sentinel-2 Adjusted Reflectance Harmonized Landsat Sentinel (HLS) using bands 12-8a-4. It shows the Hermits Peak Fire in New Mexico, USA as captured on 3 May 2022. In this image, the burned areas appear in brick red and are overlain with active fire pixels from MODIS and VIIRS. (Link to view in FIRMS)

FIRMS has recently integrated an additional Harmonized Landsat/Sentinel-2 (HLS) Imagery product. The Reflectance (Bands 7-5-4) layer from Landsat 8/OLI  and (Bands 12, 8a, 4) from Sentinel 2A and 2B are false color composite (FCC) images that allow us to visualize wavelengths that the human eye cannot see (i.e. short wave infrared and near infrared). Burned areas appear almost brick red making it easier to see fire affected areas and water is very dark, almost black, which makes it much easier to see lakes or flooded lands. 

Unlike other satellite imagery layers in FIRMS, which are provided through NASA GIBS, the beta version HLS False Color Composite Imagery (Bands 7-5-4 for Landsat and Bands 12, 8a, 4 for Sentinel 2A and 2B), are provided dynamically through the NASA  Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT), as such it may take slightly longer to display than the HLS True Color imagery through GIBS. HLS imagery is currently available approximately 2 -4 days after acquisition. 

Steps to view the HLS FCC layers:

The HLS layers are only available in Advanced Mode (basic mode has reduced functionality to minimize the complexity of the interface). 
•    Go to or
•    Toggle the “Advanced Mode” button in the upper right .
•    Toggle the “Historical” button in the upper right.
•    The HLS Landsat and Sentinel 2 imagery are in the “Harmonized Landsat/Sentinel-2” grouping in the table of contents.
•    Use the tools/prompts to access and view the imagery.
•    Toggle on the True Color imagery first to get a good idea of where the FCC data can be expected on a given day.

Use the screenshot tool to create a GeoTIFF of the image to enable the image to be imported in to a GIS.

Some things to note:
•    The HLS imagery is not near real-time data.  It is currently available about 2 -4 days after acquisition.
•    The reach back on this service goes back to March 15, 2022.
•    As the FCC is dynamically generated, it may take slightly longer to display than the True Color imagery through GIBS. We are monitoring the performance of the HLS FCC imagery and welcome feedback.
•    Zoom scale to display the false color composite data is currently set to 11 through 14, but true color can be viewed at smaller scales.  The zoom level is indicated at the very end of the URL (e.g., 11z).
•    Orbit tracks for Landsat 8 and Sentinel 2A and 2B are available as layers in the table of contents.  
•    Landsat 9 data is anticipated to be incorporated into the HLS product in late April.  At that time, or soon thereafter, it will be part of the HLS service in FIRMS.

Find out more about HLS

FIRMS recently added a location tool to enable users to easily find and save places of interest. 

Open the Location Tool by clicking on the "Location" icon from the bottom menu of FIRMS Fire Map or the FIRMS US/Canada Fire Map

  • Enter the location or coordinates to search in the "Find Location" tab, checking the box to "allow multiple location selection".
  • Click on the "Current Location" to find out what location you are viewing.
  • Any locations you store for future visits will be saved under the "Saved Locations" tab. 

FIRMS provides a comprehensive array of near real-time NASA Earth observations and derived science data products to detect the location and extent of fire activity and its effects on the land and atmosphere.  FIRMS has recently implemented a scalable user interface to better meet the needs and use cases of various users.  When initiating the fire map for either FIRMS Global or FIRMS US/Canada FIRMS, the user interface to the right of the map window defaults to BASIC MODE.  In this mode, a focused list of commonly used layers is presented to the user for display.  This list includes MODIS and VIIRS active fire detection data, locations of current US and Canada large wildland fires, true color MODIS and VIIRS satellite imagery and particular background and overlay layers.

By simply selecting the button, users can choose to toggle to ADVANCED MODE.  In this mode, all available FIRMS layers are provided for users to access and display.  This includes false color MODIS and VIIRS satellite imagery, MODIS and VIIRS land and atmosphere science data products, additional sources of satellite imagery, contextual layers for wildland fire management, and several overlay and background layers.

As with other user-applied customizations to the fire map, when a bookmark is created, the map will retain the applied mode when you return to the map using that referenced bookmark.

FIRMS is continuing to add relevant sources of Earth observation data and science data products.  Please stay tuned as we continue to introduce these additional sources of data and associated tools and utilities.