|For release: Sept. 8, 1995
RELEASE NO. 95-88
NASA RESEARCH PLANES TO PROBE HURRICANE LUIS OVER WEEKEND
Three NASA research planes, including a former spy jet, will
probe Hurricane Luis with lasers and other instruments on Saturday,
Sept. 8, as the storm system churns the Atlantic off the East
The aircraft will examine the inflow of water vapor to Luis in
an effort to learn more about the dynamics of hurricanes, said Dr.
Edward Browell of the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
Browell is the projects principal investigator.
"Its a first for making any laser water vapor measurements
around a hurricane," Browell said. "This will help us understand
one of the sources of energy that help feed a hurricane. We have
never previously been able to see the distribution of water vapor
flowing into a hurricane, and that is an important source of energy
for sustaining and intensifying a hurricane."
The aircraft will fly out of the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on
Wallops Island, Va.
One of the planes, a NASA
ER-2 from Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.,
will fly over the hurricane at about 70,000 feet and take remote
measurements using a laser system called the Langley Lidar
Atmospheric Sensing Experiment
(LASE). The ER-2 is an extensively refitted former spy
plane known as the U-2. The LASE instrument aboard the ER-2 will
transmit laser light down into the atmosphere and measure the
amount of light reflected back to detect and measure the amount of
water vapor present.
The LASE instrument aboard the ER-2 is the key experiment among
the three flights, Browell said, and a precursor for space-based
studies of the Earths climate.
A NASA C-130 from Wallops will underfly the ER-2 taking
measurments of water vapor both remotely with a laser instrument
and with instruments"in situ," or in the immediate vicinity of the
plane. The C-130 will not fly into the storm but will skirt around
the inflow region at varying altitudes up to 30,000 feet.
Hurricane Luis extends upward to about 55,000 feet.
A NASA Lear jet from Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio,
will fly near the western edge of Luis at 30,000 feet to 40,000
feet, also taking in-situ water vapor measurements.
- end -
text-only version of this release