NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are exploring how drones can be used to study hurricanes and storms that frequent the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
NextGov’s Josh Smith reports that the agencies will be using two Northrop Grumman-built unmanned aircrafts for test flights during the height of the hurricane season in mid-September.
The first of two Global Hawks will be delivered to NASA’s Wallops Flight facility in Virginia in the next few weeks to aid the three-year research program.
Scott Braun, a NASA investigator who leads the Global Hawk experiments, said the UAS was used to gather data on Atlantic hurricanes in 2010.
The aircraft have a wing span of 116 feet and can stay airborne for nearly 30 hours.
According to the article, the UAVs would be used to supplement manned flights for storm data gathering.
Manned flights to explore hurricanes have been conducted since 1943 by the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and use Lockheed Martin-built WC-130J aircraft.
NOAA is also exploring the possibility of using unmanned watercraft to penetrate storms at sea level.