These maps are compiled at the USDA Forest Service (USFS) Remote Sensing Applications Center in cooperation with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Direct Readout Laboratory (DRL) and the NASA MODIS Rapid Response System, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NOAA/NESDIS), the University of Maryland, the National Interagency Fire Center, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and the University of Wisconsin Space Science Engineering Center. The map products display the location and relative detection time of all types of all observable fires and other thermal activity through the specified date/time using high temporal, synoptic view, multispectral observations acquired by MODIS, AVHRR and GOES.

The MODIS sensor is currently onboard the polar-orbiting NASA EOS satellite platforms Terra and Aqua. Each MODIS instrument provides multiple thermal observations of the Earth in the mid to high latitudes on a daily basis. The Active Fire Mapping Program utilizes near real-time direct readout MODIS imagery from both Terra and Aqua collected by the Active Fire Mapping Program and interagency/institution partners, and MODIS imagery and data products provided by the NASA MODIS Rapid Response System. Detectable fire activity at the time of satellite overpass are identified and characterized at 1km spatial resolution using the latest version of the MODIS Active Fire Product (MOD14/MYD14) algorithm. A detected fire does not necessarily mean that the entire area represented by the 1km pixel is on fire. A detection may be the result of intense fire activity covering a small fraction of the pixel area or fire activity occurring over a broader area. Fire detection omission/comission errors may occur due to input data anomalies, limited satellite observation conditions, and/or potential algorithm limitations.