NASA Launches Drones From Va. To Study Storms

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NASA (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

NASA (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

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ATLANTIC, Va. (AP) — NASA is using former military surveillance drones to help study how tropical storms intensify.

The unmanned Global Hawk aircraft are taking off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where they’re studying storms that form over the Atlantic Ocean. NASA officials say while forecasting models predicting a storm’s path have improved greatly over the past few decades, there hasn’t been much progress producing models that predict a hurricane’s strength.

Two Global Hawks have been equipped with instruments to study the overall environment of tropical storms as well as their structure. Scientists are primarily interested in learning the impact of the dusty Saharan Air Layer and thunderstorms found within a tropical storm.

The drones are used because they can fly longer than traditional research aircraft.

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