Drones See Second Life Mapping Hurricanes—NASA’s HS3 Program
By Penny Hubbard, CIO Communications, Ames Research Center
The ARC Airborne Science Information Technology’s Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) is a 5-year combined mission with Agency, industry, and academic entities investigating the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensification in the Atlantic Ocean basin. Having a limited number of data points from any given hurricane season has been a barrier in the past, as mapping requires sustained measurements over several years. The small sample is a function not just of tropical storm activity but also of the distance of storms from the base of operations.
HS3 utilizes two Global Hawks, one with instruments geared toward measurement of the environment and the other with instruments suited to inner-core structure and processes. Capable of reaching altitudes greater than 55,000 feet, flying up to 30 hours, and storing and augmenting data from multiple satellites, global meteorological analyses, and computer simulations, HS3 is crushing the barriers of small sample gathering and helping scientists to understand the physical processes that control changes in hurricane intensity. Researchers hope to determine the extent to which these intensification processes are predictable.
HS3 addresses the key NASA Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) science goal of studying Earth in order to advance scientific understanding, meet societal needs, and fulfill NASA’s research objective to “enable improved predictive capability for weather and extreme weather events.” HS3 will obtain the measurements needed both to improve scientific understanding and to transfer that understanding into improved intensity prediction.
To view the fascinating details of NASA’s HS3 program, visit https://espo.nasa.gov/missions/hs3/ or http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hurricanes/missions/hs3/overview/index.html.