NASA flies drones to hunt hurricanes

Updated
From left, UW-Madison researchers Christopher Velden, Derrick Herndon, Joe Taylor and John Sears are part of a NASA-led project that will use an unmanned...
From left, UW-Madison researchers Christopher Velden, Derrick Herndon, Joe Taylor and John Sears are part of a NASA-led project that will use an unmanned...
John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal/AP

Though many Americans may be leery of U.S. drone policy and targeted killings, NASA says drones don’t just hunt enemies abroad—they can track down dangerous storms on the home front too.

The space agency announced that this year as part of the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) program, two unmanned Global Hawk drones, will fly over the tropical Atlantic to watch the development of major storms in the area.

These two global hawks are showing the practical side of drones that can fly higher 55,000 than feet and can fly up to 30 hours, which is ideal for investigating hurricanes.  “One of the HS3 Global Hawks will have an instrument suite geared toward measurement of the environment and the other will have instruments suited to inner-core structure and processes,” NASA said on its website.

HS3 is a five-year mission funded under NASA’s Earth Venture program. While they do have two drones available, they only fly one at a time because it takes six pilots on the ground in two shifts to keep each hawk in the air.

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NASA flies drones to hunt hurricanes

Updated