Satellites Capture Stunning Images Of Burning Man Festival From Space


Satellites in orbit captured stunning images of the Burning Man festival as it kicked off in the Nevada desert. This renowned event, known for its “radical self-expression,” began on Monday, August 28, marking the start of a week-long celebration.


A Glimpse of the Festival

Satellites have provided incredible images of the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, showcasing the temporary city's layout and even capturing a fire on the main plaza. Explore these remarkable photos and get a unique perspective on the 'radical self-expression' festival.

While orbiting the Earth, satellites, including those from Maxar Technologies, observed the emergence of a temporary city known as Black Rock City. This city was laid out in a circular footprint resembling an ancient Greek amphitheater. At the center of the city, a round plaza was encircled by concentric streets where festival-goers parked their vehicles and pitched tents.

Satellite Imagery

Maxar’s spacecraft captured daytime images of Black Rock City on Sunday, August 27, just one day before the official start of the festival. The Burning Man festival is celebrated in the Black Rock Desert, located approximately 120 miles north of Reno, Nevada. The event embraces “radical self-expression” and “radical self-reliance” and features unconventional forms of art and communal living. Although tickets for the festival are priced at over $575, it upholds principles like decommodification and gifting.


Sentinel-2’s Fiery Observation

In addition to Maxar’s imagery, the European Earth-observation satellite Sentinel-2 also flew over the city on the same day. It captured an intriguing sight—a fire burning in the middle of the main plaza. However, this fire was not the main Burning Man fire, which traditionally concludes the festival on the night before Labor Day. This year, Labor Day falls on September 4.

An Earth-Observation Perspective

The fire captured by Sentinel-2 appeared as a mix of greyscale visible light and short-wave infrared, as noted by an Earth-observation researcher using the moniker “kosmi.” This observation adds a unique perspective to the festival’s iconic fiery conclusion.


The Burning Man festival continues to be a spectacle of creativity and self-expression, drawing attendees from around the world. With satellite technology, we can now witness its evolution and the start of the festivities from a truly unique vantage point in space.

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