Central Africa is often shrouded in equatorial clouds, especially during the rainy season. When our Dove satellites pass over the area on a clear day it’s an event here at Planet Labs. One such event happened last week. On March 3, a Dove beamed a clear view of the Democratic Republic of Congo into our platform.
…and the imagery didn’t disappoint.
In the vast, grassy lowlands of the DRC’s Bandundu Province, we spotted a series of fires burning within a few kilometers of each other. Initially, this massive blaze caught our eye:
Then, as we looked closer, we saw this smaller fire:
You’ll note all three fires are blazing in close proximity to older burn scars—a pattern indicative of prescribed burning. Deliberate burning is common to the grasslands and forests of Central Africa. It’s typical for farmers, villagers and land managers to burn savannah land to refresh and re-seed mature pastureland.
In the height of the dry season, thousands of pasture fires can burn simultaneously across Central Africa:
Our always-on fleet of imaging satellites is getting closer and closer to imaging this region (and the entire Earth) once a day; we’re slated to reach this goal at the end of this year. So, on that rare day in the wet season, when there’s a hole in the cloud belt, clear imagery will be beamed down into the Planet Labs online platform, processed and ready for download just hours later.