World first -- ocean drone captures footage from inside hurricane (video)
[Oct 1, 2021: Ailbhe MacMahon]
NOAA and Saildrone Inc. are piloting five specially designed saildrones in the Atlantic Ocean to gather data around the clock to help understand the physical processes of hurricanes. (Credit: Saildrone)
In a world first, US scientists on Thursday piloted a camera-equipped ocean drone that looks like a robotic surfboard into a Category 4 hurricane barreling across the Atlantic Ocean.
Dramatic footage released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed the small craft battling 50-feet (15 meter) high waves and winds of over 120 mph (190 kph) inside Hurricane Sam.
The autonomous vehicle is called a "Saildrone" and was developed by a company with the same name.
Powered by wind and 23 feet (seven meters) in length, it carries a specially designed "hurricane wing," designed to withstand punishing conditions as it collects data to help scientists learn more about one of Earth's most destructive forces.
Saildrone's website indicates it can record measurements like wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, temperature, salinity, humidity and more.
Video footage from on board Saildrone 1045 in Hurricane Sam on Sept. 30, 2021.
"We expect to improve forecast models that predict rapid intensification of hurricanes," said NOAA scientist Greg Foltz in a statement.
"Rapid intensification, when hurricane winds strengthen in a matter of hours, is a serious threat to coastal communities," and data collected from uncrewed systems will help improve models, he added.
Scientists warn that climate change is warming the ocean and making hurricanes more powerful, posing an increasing risk to coastal communities.
Video footage from on board Saildrone 1045 and animation showing location in Hurricane Sam on Sept. 30, 2021.
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