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Hurricane Aircraft and Satellites
Hurricane Aircraft

NASA, the U.S. Air Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration all use aircraft to study and track hurricanes. Following are examples of the aircraft used.

Image of a DC 8 aircraft. Image to right: NASA's DC-8 aircraft. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NASA

The NASA DC-8 is a four-engine jet transport that has been highly modified to support the Agency's science mission. The medium-altitude aircraft has a 148-foot wingspan and is 157 feet long. It can fly at altitudes from 1,000 to 42,000 feet for up to 12 hours, although most science missions average six to 10 hours. The aircraft has a range of 5,400 nautical miles and can carry 30,000 pounds of scientific instruments and equipment. NASA acquired the former commercial airliner in 1985. It was based at the Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., until late 1997 when it moved to the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.

Image of an ER 2 aircraft. Image to right: NASA's ER-2 aircraft. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NASA

NASA's two ER-2 aircraft are platforms for a variety of high-altitude science missions. The aircraft are used for Earth science and atmospheric sensor research and development, satellite calibration and data validation. The ER-2s are capable of carrying a maximum payload of 2,600 pounds of experiments distributed in the equipment bay, nose bay and wing pods. Most missions last about six hours with ranges of 2,200 nautical miles. The aircraft reach cruise altitudes of above 65,000 feet within 20 minutes. Cruising speeds are 410 knots, or 467 miles per hour, at altitude. The aircraft are 63 feet long, with a wingspan of 104 feet and the top of the vertical tails are 16 feet above ground when the aircraft is on the bicycle-type landing gear. The ER-2s were acquired in 1981 and 1989 and were based at the Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., until late 1997 when they moved to the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.

+ Other aircraft used for hurricane hunting

Satellites Used in Hurricane Science

Icon for AIRS Aqua AIRS

Aqua's AIRS Web site

AIRS Captures 4 Hurricanes in 2004

Icon for Aqua mission Aqua Satellite:

Aqua Satellite Web site

Building Better Forecasts
March 18, 2002
Camex 4 logo CAMEX Missions:

CAMEX-4 Mission of May - September 2003

"Dropping in on a Hurricane"



CAMEX-4 Hurricane Tracks for the Year

CAMEX Photo Gallery:

MSFC photo gallery: updated each hurricane season
Camex 3 logo CAMEX-3 Mission of 1998

CAMEX-3 Mission

CAMEX-3 Wrapping up with Flights into Hurricane Georges
September 21, 1998

Hurricane research team stays busy: Team flies 4 missions in 5 days
September 18, 1998

NASA Team Awaits Next Hurricane: Thunderstorms Continue
September 10, 1998

Hurricane Season Passing Its Prime
September 2, 1998

CAMEX-3 Preparing for Hurricane Danielle
August 28, 1998

Quite a Windfall
Aug 31, 1998

Bonnie Now a Hurricane
August 22, 1998

First CAMEX-3 hurricane brewing in mid-Atlantic
August 20, 1998

NASA, NOAA Team Seeks Secrets to Hurricane's Power
August 12, 1998

Scientists Analyzing Immense Data Haul From Hurricanes
January 15, 1999

In the Eyewall of the Storm

Icon to show computer tracking Computer Tracking Of Hurricanes:

NASA Goes Online With Extra-Tropical Storm Tracks
February 10, 2003

Icon showing satellite tracking of hurricanes

Global Positioning System Technology and Hurricanes:

GPS System to Track Hurricanes
Understanding Hurricanes: Shaping Our Future

September. 8, 2000

Icon for the Jason project Jason-1 and TOPEX/Poseidon

Icon for the LIDAR Atmospheric Sensing Experiment

Lidar Atmospheric Sensing Experiment:

Lidar Atmospheric Sensing Experiment (LASE)

NASA Observations Improve Hurricane Forecasts
May 22, 2003

Icon for the MISR instrument MISR Instrument

(Frances, Ivan Contribute to Hurricane Studies)
September 14, 2004

Icon for the MODIS instrument MODIS Web site

Icon for the SeaWinds satellite

SeaWinds and QuikScat:

SeaWinds and QuikScat

SeaWinds Casts a Closer Eye on Tropical Cyclones
January 14, 2002

Icon for the NASA technology of forecasting Satellites: (Various)

NASA Satellites Help Hurricane Forecasters Since 1992's Destructive Hurricane Andrew
August 23, 2002

NASA Technology Eyes Better Hurricane Forecasts
October 4, 2001

Icon for TRMM Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Satellite
Rob Gutro
Goddard Space Flight Center