Pat Shingleton: "Storm Flights-Without Pilots"
Manned research planes are limited in flights to the Eastern Atlantic Ocean. Researchers are interested in how hot, dry and dusty Saharan air affects developing storms. Science Magazine reports that next month, NASA will remotely pilot two high-flying aircraft into the nursery of tropical cyclones to reveal the environmental and internal factors that control storm growth. Two Global Hawk drones will traverse over and around tropical storms and hurricanes from their source point in the Eastern Atlantic and follow the system until its ultimate collapse. The remotely piloted planes will release dropsondes, disposable weather recording devices and detectors that will target gamma-ray bursts and electrical discharges known as black lightning. The drones will join manned research planes together or in a series to advance the continuous coverage of a storm.