An ocean drone has captured footage from the inside of a major hurricane, the first glimpse into an active system hurtling across the Atlantic Ocean.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration teamed up with Saildrone Inc. to send the ocean drone into the midst of Hurricane Sam, a Category 4 hurricane which is not forecast to hit the United States.
Experts say the Saildrone Explorer SD 1045 is battling 50-foot waves and 120 mph winds to gather critical scientific data in realtime, a process that is "giving us a completely new view of one of Earth's most destructive forces."
The drone includes a specialized "hurricane wing" that allows it to operate in extreme wind conditions. The data collected is expected to bring new insights into how tropical cyclones grow and intensify.
“Using data collected by saildrones, we expect to improve forecast models that predict rapid intensification of hurricanes,” said Greg Foltz, a NOAA scientist.
“Rapid intensification, when hurricane winds strengthen in a matter of hours, is a serious threat to coastal communities. New data from saildrones and other uncrewed systems that NOAA is using will help us better predict the forces that drive hurricanes and be able to warn communities earlier.”