NASA’s Armada of Research Aircraft Monitor Hurricane Karl

Sep 17, 2010
This image from the GRIP Real Time Mission Monitor system shows the three NASA aircraft participating in the study, the Global Hawk, WB-57 and DC-8, as they fly over and around Hurricane Karl on Thursday, Sept. 16. This is the first time all three aircraft have flown the same storm system at the same time. (NASA image)

NASA’s armada of research aircraft arrived at Hurricane Karl on Thursday, Sept. 16.

The left southern California at 6 a.m. PDT for a 24-hour roundtrip flight to observe the storm. The DC-8, temporarily based in Ft Lauderdale, Fla., took off at approximately 1 p.m. EDT for about seven hours of research time. The WB-57, based in Houston, Texas, began its six-hour mission at about 12:30 CDT. The aircraft rendezvoused at the storm, which is currently in the Bay of Campeche in the .

The Global Hawk’s altitude is about 60,000 feet over Karl, while the WB-57 is flying between 56,000 and 58.000 feet. The DC-8 joins the other two at an altitude of between 33,000 and 37,000 feet.

Today’s coordinated flights are the first time during the GRIP campaign that NASA’s three aircraft have been in the same storm at the same time. In addition, aircraft from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation and the Air Force are monitoring Karl.

The Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes, or GRIP, mission is a six-week study of the formation and strengthening of tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic Ocean.

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