NASA's two unmanned Global Hawk aircraft fly over Atlantic Ocean hurricanes to investigate how storms form.
Ever wonder what it's like inside a hurricane? Today's the day you can ask some of the experts: NASA scientists and pilots will hold a Google+ "hangout" and discuss their plans to send two unmanned aircraft into Atlantic hurricanes this summer.
NASA's pair of Global Hawk aircraft can fly higher and take greater risks than the manned "Hurricane Hunter" planes that also ply the storms to gather important information for forecasters back on the ground. This year, researchers are sending the drones into Atlantic hurricanes to investigate how storms form.
Today's (July 23) Google+ hangout begins at 2 p.m. EDT. NASA social media followers can submit questions on Google+ or Twitter in advance and during the event using the hashtag #NASAHS3. Before the Hangout begins, NASA will also open a thread on its Facebook page where questions may be posted. Join the hangout here: http://bit.ly/193oajo. [Watch the hangout live]
The drones will carry instruments that measure the environment in and around hurricanes, such as Doppler radar for wind and rainfall, a microwave sounder for measuring temperature and humidity and an instrument to detect gamma ray emissions from lightning.
This is the second year of the research effort's five-year mission to investigate hurricane formation, intensity change and movement in the Atlantic Ocean. The mission, called H3, will fly from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia between Aug. 20 and Sept. 23, during the height of the Atlantic hurricane season.