NASA eyeing Hurricane Earl's eye

Posted Sep 3, 2010 by Lee Labuschagne
NASA scientists, instruments and spacecraft are busy studying Hurricane Earl from the air and space as it continues to push relentlessly toward the U.S. East Coast.
Hurricane Earl  as seen from a high-definition camera aboard NASA s Global Hawk uninhabited aerial v...
Hurricane Earl, as seen from a high-definition camera aboard NASA's Global Hawk uninhabited aerial vehicle on Sept. 2.
Image credit: NASA-JPL/DFRC
Three NASA aircraft carrying 15 instruments are busy criss-crossing Earl as part of the agency's Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes mission (GRIP), which continues through Sept. 30.
GRIP is designed to help improve our understanding of how hurricanes such as Earl form and intensify rapidly.
Among the instruments participating in GRIP is the High-Altitude Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Sounding Radiometer, or HAMSR, developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The instrument, which flies aboard NASA's Global Hawk uninhabited aerial vehicle, infers the 3-D distribution of temperature, water vapor and cloud liquid water in the atmosphere.
HAMSR has been able to make multiple passes straight across Earl's eye. Brightness temperature data were collected by HAMSR. The Global Hawk was flying at an altitude of about 19.2 kilometers (63,000 feet) approximately 1,125 kilometers (700 miles) off Florida's east coast.
The progress of NASA's GRIP aircraft can be followed in near-real-time when they are flying. Click here and then click on "Start RTMM Classic", which will download a KML file that displays in Google Earth.
Near-real-time images from HAMSR and APR-2 are being displayed on NASA's TC-IDEAS website. The composite images and data are updated every hour and are displayed using a Google Earth plug-in. With a few mouse clicks, users can manipulate data and overlay multiple data sets to provide insights on storms that aren't possible by looking at single data sets alone.