A NASA-owned unmanned aircraft system will fly above hurricanes and other severe storms for studies through the end of September in an effort to help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration improve forecasts on course and intensity.
NASA said Tuesday it will operate the Global Hawk aircraft from its ground control station at Virginia-based Wallops Flight Facility to help NOAA perform the Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology mission that starts this week.
Scientists and pilots from both agencies will use the Global Hawk to gather data on moisture, wind direction and speed and temperature through a series of flights above the Atlantic Ocean basin.
The agencies will send that data to the National Hurricane Center in Miami for integration with the National Weather Service’s forecasting platforms.
NASA’s Global Hawk contains dropsondes that are released from the aircraft to profile temperature, pressure, wind speed, direction and other attributes inside storms.
The space agency’s Global Hawk also contains instruments to measure precipitation and wind speed, take vertical profiles of temperature and humidity and a technology to measure the electric fields of thunderstorms.