Drone Science: Research Team Will Fly Drones Into the Eclipse

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While drone operators everywhere will be looking for their best shots during Monday’s eclipse (check out this guide from Kittyhawk) a team of scientists from Oklahoma State University and the University of Nebraska will be flying all day to measure the effect of the eclipse on weather patterns.

Popular Science reports that the researchers are participants in the“Collaboration Leading Operational Unmanned Development for Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics” (CLOUD MAP) project, developing drone technology for weather research.  Monday, the scientists will take advantage of the unique characteristics of the eclipse in order to learn more about the sun’s influence on weather patterns, flying during the totality.

“Drones are ideal because they can fly above towers and below where manned aircraft and balloons operate,” says the article. “It’s this lower atmospheric boundary layer that the drones are built to study.”

Scientists say that many unstable weather phenomena, such as tornadoes and thunderstorms, form when the sun comes out and begins to heat up the ground.  The eclipse offers a unique opportunity to study the change during the daytime.

The drones that the team will use feature sensors to measure all types of atmospheric conditions: temperature, humidity, air pressure, and wind. In addition, the drones are equipped with light sensors and infrared cameras to capture images.  The drones will augment readings from balloons sent into the sky in an effort to get a complete view of conditions.

Dr. Jamey Jacob, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at OSU, is one of the team of researchers.  Jacob and his team are now well-known for the development of drones designed to study severe weather, including tornadoes; and has been instrumental in bringing OSU’s drone programs to international attention.  Dr. Jacob has worked on numerous projects including designing a drone for flight on Mars.


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