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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid