March 4, 2013 - It takes a special kind of pluck
to track and chase big bad weather like
monstrous Haboob dust storms, hurricanes and
tornadoes, and bring back valuable data. But now
we can send flying robots to do the job.
NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) have equipped the Global
Hawk aircraft, which has no human pilot on
board, with advanced data technology including
parts designed by GE engineers and turned it
into a high-tech storm-chasing machine flying on
NASA’s Hurricane Severe Storm Sentinel missions.
The aircraft can gather detailed data from
ominous clouds and other dangerous places like
The Global Hawk can fly as high as 60,000 feet
for as long as 30 hours, and cover over 12,000
miles. Similar military aircraft already gather
reconnaissance data and stream video back to
base. For NASA and NOAA, though, that’s not good
enough. The agencies need detailed, accurate
data and high-definition quality video to
maneuver the Global Hawk and respond rapidly to
changing weather conditions.