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Global Hawk to participate in NASA hurricane study

25th October 2011 - 17:27 GMT | by The Shephard News Team



Northrop Grumman has announced that the Global Hawk High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAV will participate in the NASA Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) study, carrying specialist environmental data-collecting payloads. The study, which looks at the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean, will take place over a multi-year period from the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Two flight tests have already been conducted by one of the NASA Global Hawks. The first took place on 8-9 September, a 24 hour flight over the Pacific Ocean and the second on 13-14 September, a 19.5 hour flight over the Gulf of Mexico. Data was collected from three scientific instruments aboard the Global Hawk: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Airborne Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (dropsonde), the University of Wisconsin's Scanning High-Resolution Interferometer Sounder (S-HIS), and the High Altitude Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR.)

NOAA's dropsonde dispenser will be carried in the tail of the Global Hawk. The dropsondes are released from the aircraft into the atmosphere to collect data as it falls to the ground or ocean. The S-HIS mounted in the Global Hawk's belly takes measurements of the atmosphere's temperature and water vapour profiles. HAMSR provides measurements that are used to determine the 3-D distribution of temperature, water vapour, and cloud-liquid water in the atmosphere.

The study follows the 2010 flight of a NASA Global Hawk over the Pacific Ocean as part of the Global Hawk Pacific campaign, operating over the Equator to the North Pole. Later that year, the aircraft was used in the Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes, hurricane surveillance missions which provided extended coverage monitoring changes in hurricane intensity during five different storms  in the southern Caribbean and western Atlantic. In February-March 2011, NASA flew an atmospheric science payload suite on long duration Global Hawk flights over winter storms in the Pacific and Arctic under a project called Winter Storms and Pacific Atmospheric Rivers.

Principal investigator Scott Braun of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md, said of the study: ‘The high-altitude and long-duration capabilities of NASA's Global Hawks allow HS3 to sample storms virtually anywhere in the Atlantic and for durations up to three times that of conventional aircraft. Being able to stay over a storm for 15 or more hours allows us to observe storms in ways that were simply not possible before.’



The Shephard News Team


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