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Seeing which way the wind blows: New doppler radar takes flight on this summer's HS3 mission

31 July 2013

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Most aircraft carrying Doppler radar look like they've grown a tail, developed a dorsal fin, or sprouted a giant pancake on their backs. But when the unmanned Global Hawk carries a radar system this summer, its cargo will be hard to see. The autonomous and compact High-altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Profiler, or HIWRAP, a dual-frequency conical-scanning Doppler radar, will hang under the aircraft's belly as it flies above hurricanes to measure wind and rain and to test a new method for retrieving wind data.

HIWRAP is one of the instruments that will fly in this summer's mission to explore Atlantic Ocean hurricanes. NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, airborne mission will investigate tropical cyclones using a number of instruments and two Global Hawks. The HS3 mission will operate between 20 August and 23 September.

"Radar is an important remote sensor for atmospheric research," said Lihua Li, an engineer who helped develop HIWRAP at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Radar signals penetrate clouds and precipitation, allowing scientists to detect information on raindrops or ice particles." That information, he said, is one piece of the puzzle toward improving scientists' understanding of weather events.

Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

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