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Posted by on Sep 10, 2012 in Technology |

NASA uses drones to track and study hurricanes

NASA uses drones to track and study hurricanes

In late August, from a tropical wave that came in contact with the waters of the Atlantic, Hurricane began developing offshore Leslie western United States. Surely this environmental sound familiar to more than one person because, in recent days, has continued to appear in the press, radio or television. Logically, after the devastating effects left by Hurricane Katrina in cities like New Orleans in 2005, the follow-up has been (and still does) to Hurricane Leslie is quite intense and, with that idea, has been working where was his first “mission field” in which have used to track the hurricane .

With a series of flights that departed from California to the base of operations located in the State of Virginia, NASA field has several drones with which to undertake the mission HS3 (Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel) who also finished marking the first time that the drone Global Hawk class have flown by the U.S. East Coast.

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk , which is the full name of the drone, a UAV for surveillance used in both the Air Force and the U.S. Navy, Air Force and NASA Germany and, although it is somewhat similar to the Predator, not an aircraft designed for combat or to bear arms (though that’s not to say it will not equipped with multiple sensors).

NASA uses drones to track and study hurricanes image 2

These drones have about 28 hours of flight range and can fly at high altitudes (about 18 miles high) so it can pass over storms and hurricanes, providing valuable data for scientists and meteorologists on how to form a hurricane or how it changes its intensity (which have been doing while flying over Hurricane Leslie), while pilots are comfortably ashore from the Air Force base at Wallops (Virginia) or Edwards (California).

What type of data can be obtained on these flights? NASA has divided the systems as two lots, installing one of these lots in each plane. So far only one has flown drones (which entered service on September 7) that is dedicated to sampling environmental conditions around hurricanes and, within two weeks, the second plane will conditions look inside track hurricanes and storm formation. Also, both aircraft can measure the wind speed, outside temperature, humidity and water vapor from the surface of the lower area of the stratosphere.

NASA intends to cover both U.S. coasts with drones and, indeed, continue with these observation flights during the hurricane seasons of 2013 and 2014 and to that end, has the support of the U.S. Air Force , other federal agencies and some universities and centers in the country.

Fortunately, not always the drones have military applications and may also contribute to scientific research.

Images: NASA

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