Saturday, July 20, 2013

NASA to Host Google+ Hangout on Drone Hurricane Flights

WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a Google+ Hangout from several NASA centers at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 23 as the space agency prepares to fly two unmanned aircraft over Atlantic Ocean hurricanes during the 2013 Hurricane Season.

NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, mission is a five-year project that first took to the field in 2012 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Va.  HS3 is investigating the roles of the large-scale environment and storm-scale internal processes in hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic basin. 

NASA Global Hawk

HS3 scientists will use two NASA Global Hawk aircraft during the campaign, one with instruments measuring the environment around a tropical cyclone and the other with instruments looking into the storms.  NASA's unmanned sentinels are autonomously flown. 

The NASA Global Hawk is well-suited for hurricane investigations because it can over-fly hurricanes at altitudes greater than 60,000 feet with flight durations of up to 28 hours - something piloted aircraft would find nearly impossible to do. Global Hawks were used in the agency's 2010 Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) hurricane mission and the Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac) environmental science mission.

HS3 will address the controversial role of the hot, dry, and dusty Saharan Air Layer in tropical storm formation and intensification. Past studies have suggested that the Saharan Air Layer can both favor or suppress intensification. In addition, HS3 will examine the extent to which deep convection in the inner-core region of storms is a key driver of intensity change or just a response to storms finding favorable sources of energy.

Participants in the Hangout will hear about the 2012 mission and preparations underway at Wallops for the upcoming flights. The HS3 lead scientist will explain how NASA will peer into hurricanes and a Global Hawk pilot will discuss remote flying over tropical cyclones.

Panelists for the Google+ Hangout are:

-- Scott Braun, HS3 principal investigator, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
-- Tom Miller, Global Hawk pilot, NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.
-- Marilyn Vasques, HS3 project manager, NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
-- Brian McNoldy, senior research associate, University of Miami, Fla., Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Google+ Hangouts allow as many as 10 people or groups to chat, while thousands more can watch the conversation live on Google+ or YouTube. The Hangout also will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

NASA social media followers may submit questions on Google+ or Twitter in advance and during the event using the hashtag #askNASAHS3. Before the Hangout begins, NASA will open a thread on its Facebook page where questions may be posted.

To join the Hangout, visit:

PHOTO CREDIT: NASA satellite image of Hurricane Sandy.  Global Hawk - NASA/Tony Landis.


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