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Global Hawk / Hurricane Frank

NASAs unmanned aircraft Global Hawk took this image of a low-pressure system (formerly Hurricane Frank) over the eastern Pacific on Aug. 28.

NASA / NOAA

If Mother Nature is a grand scientist, then hurricanes are her swirling laboratories in the sky.

These data-rich storm systems could hold the keys to better understanding severe weather, notably hurricane formation and intensity.

NOAA and NASA scientists sought to do just that on Aug. 28 when they conducted the first-ever, high-altitude flyover of a tropical cyclone by an unmanned aircraft system, NASA’s Global Hawk.

The Global Hawk flew a 13-hour mission from Edwards Air Force Base in California to the Eastern Pacific basin, flying high over the low pressure system that was Hurricane Frank just a couple of days before.

NOAA and NASA shared the mission scientist role to advise the Global Hawk pilots—who operate the aircraft remotely from Edwards AFB—of the real-time aircraft track changes and conditions expected for its flying altitude of about 60,000 feet.

From National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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