GRIP Missions Rack Up - DC-8 and Global Hawk Probe New Developing Storm
The DC-8 flying science laboratory and the long-endurance Global Hawk returned to the skies Sept. 12 to probe a developing storm over the Caribbean Sea as part of the agency's Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes, or GRIP, mission.
The pair of NASA aircraft gathered data during coordinated flights through unnamed tropical depression AL-92, which was developing over open waters near Trinidad south of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and north of Venezuela. The DC-8 also flew Monday to continue investigating the disturbance.
The remotely operated Global Hawk's 24-hour mission took off from an Edwards Air Force Base runway before flying to the area of the storm and back, said Global Hawk payload manager David Fratello. The aircraft left Edwards early Sept. 12 and made a pre-sunrise return Sept. 13. A large portion of the Global Hawk's flight time was in transit between its base at Dryden and the Caribbean.
Researchers wanted to have the high-altitude aircraft flying over AL-92 for at least five hours and were able to log seven hours over the storm. The science instruments performed well and scientists were pleased with the flights, Fratello said.
A Gulfstream IV operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration coordinated with the crews of the DC-8 and Global Hawk, as it was flying in the same area.
DC-8 mission manager Bob Curry said the DC-8 departed from its deployment base at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Sunday afternoon to survey the storm system. The aircraft is routinely based at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., but is deployed to Florida for this mission.
The GRIP mission, which will continue through Sept. 25, is designed to help improve understanding of how hurricanes form and intensify rapidly.
During the recent Hurricane Earl, an Aug. 31 media day at Dryden featured a look into the operations center from which NASA Global Hawk missions are flown. The control room includes an area for mission managers and pilots separated by large glass windows. Behind the windows are researchers monitoring how science instruments on board the Global Hawk are functioning.
NASA's WB-57 aircraft, based at Johnson Space Center, Houston, also is being used for several GRIP missions. Media days highlighting the DC-8 and WB-57 have been held to give people across the nation glimpses into the work NASA is doing to accumulate information about hurricane formation and intensification.