Aug 18, 1998

Aircraft make second flight with TRMM

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CAMEX-3 status report

GOES-8 CONUS Visible iconAug. 18, 1998: (This is the fourth in a series of stories covering the ongoing CAMEX mission to hunt hurricane data in a way not done since the 50s. Other stories are linked in below.)

The DC-8 and ER-2 aircraft made a second sortie to match an overflight by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite on Saturday, Aug. 15.


At the 1630 UT briefing, we postponed takeoff time for the NASA aircraft by one hour, until 1930. The Mission Scientist traveled to the S-POL radar between ~1700-1810, arriving just in time to participate in the decision (with forecaster Geerts at Patrick AFB) that an additional 30-minute postponement until 2000 was wise, because the convective clouds were not developing into our operational area as rapidly as anticipated.

Left: Dr. Marian Klein of the Ocean Remote Sensing Division at NOAA's Environmental Technology Laboratory, Boulder, Colo, inspects the Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer's scanning sensor head under the NASA DC-8 aircraft. (Links to

.) credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA


Shortly after launch of all three aircraft at about 2000, and while en route to the first target area about 70 nm NW of S-POL, the University of North Dakota Citation lost cockpit radar and had to abort.


The ER-2 and DC-8 were given N-S lines (1 and 2) through a dissipating convective storm, which was worked from about 2043-2123. Just in time for the (2141 UT) TRMM overpass, a larger area including the original target became workable as a formerly strong storm weakened considerably.

Right: Dr. Marian Klein (foreground) and Dr. Albin J. Gasiewski of the Ocean Remote Sensing Division at NOAA's Environmental Technology Laboratory, Boulder, Colo, operate the Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer (PSR), a new imaging instrument on board the NASA DC-8 aircraft. (links to

.) credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA


The two aircraft were set up along Line 3, WSW-ENE, which they flew 3 times from about 2134-2217, the first leg including the overpass. After 2217, the DC-8 went offshore to drop a sonde and find a clearer area for LASE, while the ER-2 was directed to a solid 110 km (60 nm) N-S line of convective cells which had formed near the merged east coast and west coast sea breeze lines (resembling a zipper on radar). They made one run in each direction over this line of storms, which weakened during the runs. Both aircraft were on the ground by about 2320.

Left: Dr. Ramesh Kakar, Earth Science Program Manager at NASA Headquarters, conducts a morning coordination meeting with the CAMEX and TEFLUN teams. (links to

.) credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA


Communications at S-POL were excellent from my perspective with all aircraft. Dave Webber did an excellent job on the radio, and Ed Brandes was a major help at S-POL in keeping ahead of the weather and spotting opportunities for flight track changes. A team of three is needed there, especially if the Citation were flying in addition to the two NASA birds.


Note: More details are available in the NASA press release describing CAMEX-3. Check back as hurricane season progresses. We will post science updates as the campaign develops.

PIX: High resolution scans of 35mm camera photos from the CAMEX-3 campaign are available from Public Affairs Office at NASA headquarters. Please call the NASA Headquarters Photo Department at 202-358-1900, or contact Bill Ingalls at


CAMEX Series Headlines

August 12: Overview CAMEX story , describes the program in detail.
August 13: CAMEX maiden flight , for calibration of TRMM satellite instruments
August 14: CAMEX test flights , CAMEX flies over tropical storm weather in successful calibration run
August 18: CAMEX aircraft make second flight with TRMM , second calibration run for TRMM (this story)
August 20: CAMEX may get first chance at a tropical storm
, later this week 
August 21: Here comes Bonnie! , CAMEX scheduled to fly over T.S. Bonnie 
August 22: West by Northwest , CAMEX team may have to evacuate to Georgia 
August 24: Eye-to-eye, and Bonnie winks, CAMEX team makes first flight through eye 
August 25: Snow in August, Bonnie surprises the hurricane team 
August 26: Camera of many colors Hurricane hunters using advanced scanner to peer into storms
August 28: Preparing for Danielle NASA team takes break as Bonnie fades away
August 31: Quite a Windfall Hurricane team completes first half of unique science campaign
September 2: Bonnie Cuts a Towering Figure Satellite radar shows mountainous cloud chimney
September 4: Hurricane team studies Earl Four aircraft probe storm
September 10: NASA team awaits next hurricane
September 16: Hurricane season passing its prime Thunderstorm studies continue as a new hurricane candidate wends its way from Africa.
September 18: Two new storms brewing for hurricane research team Scientists fly 4 out of 5 days, clear air sampled over the Bahamas, oceanic convection data collected east of Cape Canaveral
September 21:The last hurricane - CAMEX team wrapping up campaign with flights into Georges
September 23: Hurricane Georges puts on a light show - CAMEX team treated to purple sprites and weird lightning

NCAR has an extensive writeup on the GPS dropsondes used in CAMEX-3 and other atmospheric campaigns.

A new study - not related to CAMEX-3 - by the Arizona State University suggests a link between hurricanes in the northwest Atlantic and air pollution.

CAMEX-3 is an interagency project to measure hurricane dynamics at high altitude, a method never employed before over Atlantic storms. From this, scientists hope to understand better how hurricanes are powered and to improve the tools they use to predict hurricane intensity.

Lead CAMEX-3 personnel










Dr. Ramesh Kakar, Earth Science Program Manager, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC

credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

Robbie Hood, Lead Mission Scientist, Global Hydrology and Climate Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL

credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

Dr. Ed Zipser, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, Field Campaign Lead, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

Dr. Frank Marks, Field Program Director, Hurricane Research Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Miami, FL

credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

An overview story (Aug. 12, 1998) describes the program in detail. The study is part of NASA's Earth Science enterprise to better understand the total Earth system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment.

Web Links
CAMEX-3 home page contains links to daily flight operations and instrument descriptions.
Lightning Imaging Sensor aboard the TRMM satellite observes lightning from above the clouds - and my lead to better warnings on the ground.
MACAWS uses the Doppler effect (red and blue shifts) to measure wind velocity.
SPARCLE is a Space Shuttle experiment set for 2001 to demonstrate laser wind measurement from space.


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More web links
  • More Space Science Headlines - NASA research on the web
  • The Marshall Newsroom - more information on this and other news from the Marshall Space Flight Center
  • NASA's Earth Science Enterprise Information on Earth Science missions, etc.
  • Global Hydrology and Climate Center studies the global water cycle and its effect on climate.
  • National Hurricane Center carries the latest tracking information on tropical storms and hurricanes. It also has lots of historical data and images, including hi-resolution copies of the pictures above of damage by Hurricane Andrew.
  • The Public Use of Remote Sensing Data at Goddard Space Flight Center has high-resolution images of Fran (including the original of the image used in this story), Andrew, and other hurricanes and of other events seen from space.