Thursday, June 7, 2012

NASA's unmanned "Severe Storm Sentinels"

Human pilots have the disadvantage of "being human", it is obvious that the basic necessity of sleep would be both a safety issue and the fact that decreased flight time slows down the progress of much needed scientific data for the study of Hurricanes and severe storms.  Imagine an unmanned plane that can fly 28 hours non stop at an altitude of up to 60,000 feet. This in reality is Nasa's Global Hawk (HS3), which is a  mission that will begin this summer and continue for the next several years.
Image by NASA
What is the HS3 and what will it do ?   "Hurricane intensity can be very hard to predict because of an insufficient understanding of how clouds and wind patterns within a storm interact with the storm’s environment. HS3 seeks to improve our understanding of these processes by taking advantage of the surveillance capabilities of the Global Hawk along with measurements from a suite of advanced instruments," said Scott Braun, HS3 mission principal investigator and research meteorologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Here is an outline of HS3 instruments;

  • High-resolution Interferometer Sounder (S-HIS)
  • Advanced Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS) also known as dropsondes
  • Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL)
  • Tropospheric Wind Lidar Technology Experiment (TWiLiTE) (to be added in 2013)
  • High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (HIWRAP)
  • Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD)
  • High-Altitude Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR)

NASA's Science Mission Directorate Global Hawk aircraft will deploy to Wallops Flight Facility from their home base at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, California.

For more details, please visit NASA online at;

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