Drone aircraft to aid tornado research

By Jeff Martin, USA TODAY

Scientists plan to launch unmanned aerial vehicles over the Great Plains May 1 to June 15 in hopes of getting a better idea of how tornadoes form.

The remote-controlled planes, known as UAVs, will be part of a broader tornado study — VORTEX 2 — that will start its second phase May 1, says Don Burgess, a research scientist with the University of Oklahoma.

The study will take place in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Missouri, says Keli Tarp, a spokesperson with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Partners in Norman, Okla.

VORTEX 2 (Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2), which began last spring, is the largest-ever tornado experiment, Tarp says. The original VORTEX study in the mid-1990s helped inspire the Hollywood film Twister.

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This post was written by qni_it on April 14, 2010

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