Watch CBS News

New NASA Technology Might Unlock Secrets Of El Nino And Provide Better Future Weather Forecasts

LOS ANGELES ( —  Some new NASA technology might help make living on Earth a lot safer.

The new technology was unveiled Friday at Edwards Air Force Base.

KCAL9 meteorologist and reporter Amber Lee was there when NASA previewed it's unmanned Global Hawk aircraft.

The craft is hoping to allow scientists a chance to learn more about the current El Nino.

"What we really haven't had a chance to examine," said Theo Stein with the National Oceanic And Atmosphere Administration, "is that initial connection between the ocean and the atmosphere particularly during a strong event like the one we're having."

NASA and NOAA said this fully autonomous aircraft can cruse up to 60,000 feet and stay in the air for 24 hours.

The craft can taxi, take off and land -- all by remote control. It's run by pilots in a room filled with computers at NASA's Flight Center at Edwards.

It's used along with satellites in the sky, buoys at sea and other weather tools used to help meteorologists forecast the weather.

The Global Hawk is equipped with remote sensors to collect real time data and observations so El Nino storms can be examined as if they were being X-rayed.

The craft can also gather data over the eastern Pacific -- something only satellites could do before.

"It's the first time this kind of process has ever been automated," said Robbie Hood with NOAA,

This $3 million campaign is spread out over three years. If all goes well, these unmanned aircraft could be used on a daily basis to provide more accurate models to predict weather.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.