NASA using drones to spy on hurricanes

Published On: Sep 24 2012 07:57:41 PM CDT   Updated On: Sep 24 2012 03:11:39 PM CDT
NASA Drone
HOUSTON -

There is a new tool being used to fly into the eye of a storm.

NASA is now using drone planes to fly into hurricanes.

The same type of robot planes the military would use for surveillance missions are now spying on storms.

The "Global Hawk" was sent out from the east coast to the Atlantic for the first time this month.

It's being called the "Hurricane Severe Storm Sentinel Mission" and will study and gain insight into hurricanes.

These large planes, including the Global Hawk, can soar higher than any other hurricane hunter plane has gone before, flying up to 65,000 feet.

Local 2 Meteorologist Mary Lee recently had the incredible opportunity to fly with hurricane hunters.

The mission lasted eleven hours as it flew directly into Isaac several times at just 5,000 feet.

The new unmanned hurricane hunting planes will be able to fly much higher, giving us a slice of the storm, never seen before.

"You can fly these planes where you can't fly people. It's at a very high altitude is not a good environment for people, and very low where you wouldn't dare risk flying a human into," Local 2 Meteorologist and Hurricane Expert Bill Read said.

Read was the National Hurricane Center Director when talks first began to use unmanned Drone Aircraft to fly into hurricanes.

"I think the breakthroughs on what makes a hurricane change rapid intensity involves what's going on in the thunderstorms that makes up the eye wall. I think unmanned aircraft will be important information gatherers if you will, to allow us to come up with a better forecast for the rapid change of intensity," Read said.

The mission will continue until mid-October.