NASA’s UAV Flights to Study Hurricane Formation and Development

Michigan Aerospace Corporation (MAC), an advanced engineering and products company, has learned that NASA’s Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) program will use the Tropospheric Wind Lidar Technology Experiment TWiLiTE) Doppler Wind Lidar during the 2013 hurricane season. TWiLiTE, an ultraviolet direct-detection Lidar developed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, can measure winds from high-altitude aircraft all the way down to the Earth’s surface. MAC designed and fabricated the key sensing element at TWiLiTE’s heart: a unique “triple-aperture” Fabry-Perot interferometer, or etalon. MAC’s triple-aperture interferometer features major advances in cost, size, and efficiency.

The HS3 program uses two large Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to carry remote-sensing instruments high over hurricanes. The TWiLiTE instrument, from an altitude of 60,000 feet, will provide 3-dimensional wind mapping of the troposphere. These sophisticated 3-dimensional wind maps will provide a better understanding of how clouds and wind patterns interact to effect hurricane formation and intensity. This pioneering work will result in more accurate 3-dimensional tropospheric wind models which will enable better forecasts of these powerful atmospheric events.

“Richer data and improved models can lead to more accurate forecasts,” says Peter Tchoryk, CEO of MAC. “Three-dimensional wind profiling is something we have been working on since the company was founded. We’re very pleased to be part of the HS3 program.”

MAC is a leader in 3-dimensional atmospheric mapping of air speed, direction, temperature, and density. Building on experience from earlier NASA projects, MAC delivers instruments with unparalleled accuracy, reliability, and cost effectiveness for harsh and challenging environments.