During the 10-hour test flight, the Global Hawk flew from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California and landed at the Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA.
The maiden flight supports NASA’s Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel mission with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which was announced in late August.
Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Marine Meteorology Division will take part in the research being conducted by NASA.
HS3 mission principal investigator Scott Braun said the two Global Hawk drones will be used to “describe the interaction of tropical disturbances and cyclones with the hot, dry and dusty air that moves westward off the Saharan desert and appears to affect the ability of storms to form and intensify.”
For the HS3 mission, two Global Hawk drones, which can fly at altitudes over 60,000 feet and for as long as 20 hours, will carry a laser system, a high-resolution interferometer sounder, and an atmospheric profiling systems.
Braun said these instruments “will examine the role of deep thunderstorm systems in hurricane intensity change, particularly to detect changes in low-level wind fields in the vicinity of these thunderstorms.”
The one-month long mission will continue until early October and will be repeated during hurricane seasons in 2013 and 2014.