The Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) is a five-year mission specifically targeted to investigate the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin. HS3 is motivated by hypotheses related to the relative roles of the large-scale environment and storm-scale internal processes.
HS3 addresses the controversial role of the Saharan Air Layer in tropical storm formation and intensification as well as the role of deep convection in the inner-core region of storms. Addressing these science questions requires sustained measurements over several years due to the limited sampling opportunities in any given hurricane season. Past NASA hurricane field campaigns have all faced the same limitation: a relatively small (three to four) sample of storms forming during the campaigns under a variety of scenarios and undergoing widely varying evolutions. The small sample is not just a function of tropical storm activity in any given year, but also the distance of storms from the base of operations.
The NASA Global Hawk aircraft are ideal platforms for investigations of hurricanes, capable of flight altitudes greater than 55,000 ft and flight durations of up to 30 hours. HS3 will use two Global Hawks, one with an instrument suite geared toward measurement of the environment and the other with instruments suited to inner-core structure and processes. The environmental payload includes the scanning High-resolution Interferometer Sounder, dropsondes, theTWiLiTE Doppler wind lidar, and the Cloud Physics Lidar, while the over-storm payload includes the HIWRAP conically scanning Doppler radar, the HIRAD multi-frequency interferometric radiometer, and the HAMSR microwave sounder. Field measurements will take place for one month each during the hurricane seasons of 2012 through 2014.