For the first time, a team of scientists will use an uninhabited aerial
vehicle (UAV) to gather weather data about thunderstorms and show the safety
and utility of uninhabited aircraft for science research.

The aircraft, remotely operated from the ground, is making history flying
over the Florida Everglades.

In August, the Altus Cumulus Electrification Study will enlist the Altus II
uninhabited aircraft to fly around and over – but not into – thunderstorms
to study lightning activity and electrical environment.

The ACES team from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.;
the University of Alabama in Huntsville; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
in Greenbelt, Md.; and Pennsylvania State University in University Park and
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. in San Diego will control the
aircraft from the ground at the Naval Air Facility in Key West, Fla.

The Altus II aircraft, with a 55-foot wingspan, is about the size of a
Cessna aircraft. It flies at speeds of 70 to 100 knots (80 to 115 mph), can
operate up to 65,000 feet and can carry over 300 lbs of various scientific
equipment simultaneously.

The Altus II uninhabited aircraft, manufactured by General Atomics
Aeronautical System, Inc., is capable of flights up to eight hours, keeping
it near thunderstorms from birth to death, providing valuable information
with the potential to improve future weather forecasting ability.

Talk with an expert about the storm study and how it will help us better
understand and predict weather.

Who: Richard Blakeslee, Principal Investigator


Tony Kim, Project Manager

Marshall Space Flight Center

Huntsville, Ala.

Contacts: Radio Interview Information:

Grant Thompson, Media Relations

(256) 544-4159

Story Information:

Steve Roy, Media Relations

(256) 544-0034