ECOSTRESS launched to the space station in June 2018. It can measure variations in temperature to within a few tenths of a degree and is able to detect temperature changes at various times of day over areas as small as a football field. ECOSTRESS' primary mission is to detect plant health from space; however, its measurements can be used to detect other heat-related phenomena — including urban heat, fires, and volcanic activity — as well. Although disaster response is not one of its primary objectives, these highly detailed hurricane temperature estimates can be used to improve weather models. 

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Disasters Applications

  • ECOSTRESS will enable a detailed investigation into plant water use throughout the day," said Josh Fisher, the mission's science lead at JPL. "Furthermore, we'll be able to better understand how certain regions are being impacted by drought. This could have important implications for managing forests or agricultural systems." (
  • ECOSTRESS captured imagery of fires in the Amazon regions of Brazil and Bolivia on Aug. 23, 2019. (,
  • ECOSTRESS detected three wildfires burning in the western US on July 28, 2018 -- the Carr and Whaleback fires in California, and the Perry Fire in Nevada.(
  • ASTER is one of the more versatile satellite imagers for volcanic eruptions because it can observe both heat and sulfur dioxide plumes, which can signal an impending eruption. ECOSTRESS's thermal infrared imager has the same observational capabilities, plus the advantage of a faster revisit time. Passing over a volcano every few days, it will be able to spot new fissures and hotspots many days sooner than the older ASTER. (
  • ECOSTRESS will also focus on vegetation by providing high-frequency, high-resolution measurements of plant temperature and plant water use. Among the data's numerous uses will be to indicate regions of plant heat and water stress and also improve drought forecasting for the benefit of farmers and water managers. Researchers will also use ECOSTRESS in concert with other data to calculate water use efficiency among plants and identify drought-resistant species and varieties. (