News / Science & Technology

    NASA Readies Hurricane Investigation Mission

    NASA Readies Hurricane Investigation Missioni
    X
    August 13, 2013 12:21 AM
    Now that we're heading into peak hurricane season, the U.S. space agency, NASA, is planning to investigate the storms that churn over the Atlantic. VOA's Suzanne Presto spoke to a research meteorologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington to learn more about the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, mission.
    Suzanne Presto
    The U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says this Atlantic hurricane season will likely be even more active than usual.  And, as we head into peak hurricane season, the U.S. space agency, NASA, is planning to investigate the tropical storms and hurricanes that churn over the Atlantic Ocean.  

    Two unmanned Global Hawk aircraft will take to skies above the Atlantic storms and collect measurements so scientists can see how hurricanes evolve.  It's the second year of NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, field campaign, says Scott Braun, a research meteorologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington.  
     
    "What we're really after, scientifically, is to better understand the relative roles of the environment and those inner-core processes in the formation and intensification of hurricanes in the Atlantic," said Braun, the HS3 principal investigator.

    High-Flying Hawks

    Global Hawks can reach an altitude of almost 20 kilometers, roughly twice as high as a commercial airliner.  On-board instruments, such as the High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Profiler, allow scientists to gather details about storms from high above them.   

    The Global Hawks will monitor the environment near the storms to see how surrounding conditions affect their intensity and also collect data about the storms themselves.  One craft will deploy dropsondes, instruments that measure temperature, humidity, pressure, wind speed and wind direction.  The dropsondes have parachutes that slow their descent, and Braun says it takes about 20 minutes for them to travel from above the storm down to the surface.  

    Robotic Craft

    The robotic planes in this mission launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, on the eastern U.S. coast, and they can fly as far as 20,000 kilometers.   

    That's just one of the benefits of using this kind of craft, says Braun.

    "With the Global Hawk, we can fly for up to about 28 hours, and because all the crew and the scientists are on the ground rather than on the plane, we can swap out shifts," he said.  "That just means that you can go much farther or stay out over a storm much longer than you can with a manned aircraft."  

    Researchers will analyze the data in depth after the field campaign, but Braun says they also plan to do a quick analysis and share some of the information they collect while the Global Hawks are flying over the storms.  

    Saharan Dust

    The HS3 mission also looks into something else that perplexes researchers.

    "In addition to wind speed and wind direction, we're also interested in temperature in the environment, particularly in association with something called the Saharan Air Layer," Braun said.  "It's a very hot, dry, dusty air mass that comes off Africa."
          
    Last year, the Global Hawks gathered some data about the dust layer that accompanied Tropical Storm Nadine.  Scientists debate whether Saharan dust fuels or suppresses the development of tropical storms.     

    This year's HS3 flights run from August 20 to September 23.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora