Extreme Turbulence

  • Released Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:52PM

Why do some storms intensify into powerful hurricanes? In search of the answer NASA scientists took to the skies in 2010 aboard a flying laboratory that crisscrossed the path of Hurricane Earl as it approached the East Coast of the United States. By deploying canister-shaped sensors within the storm, researchers collected valuable data that will help them understand how such storms form and develop. But they weren't working alone: Soaring at an altitude of 60,000 feet, NASA's unmanned Global Hawk aircraft cruised over the Category 4 hurricane while astronauts on the International Space Station captured dramatic photos of its massive cloud tops from above. Wonder what it's like to fly through a hurricane? Watch the video to get a window seat view from the scientists' plane as it jetted into the eye of the storm.

Making its first flight over a hurricane, NASA's Global Hawk aircraft ushers in a new era of storm science.

Making its first flight over a hurricane, NASA's Global Hawk aircraft ushers in a new era of storm science.

Radar data from NASA's TRMM satellite shows rainfall off the coast of the United States.

Radar data from NASA's TRMM satellite shows rainfall off the coast of the United States.

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Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Global Hawk photo courtesy of NASA/NOAA
TRMM image courtesy of NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
ISS photos courtesy of NASA, Douglas Wheelock
Aqua image courtesy of NASA/MODIS Rapid Response Team