September 24, 2018
NASA is flying an aircraft with advanced radar capabilities to support Hurricane Florence disaster assistance. And they have been doing it with help from the University of Florida.
“NASA has its own disaster response team,” says Brian Hawkins, a signal analysis engineer at NASA/CalTech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We send our plane up, record and analyze data, and provide it to FEMA’s hazard assessment team so the most up-to-date information can quickly get to the ‘boots on the ground’.”
Officials forecasted widespread impact from Hurricane Florence, which grew to a monster-sized storm. NASA’s imaging radar has the ability to see through clouds, allowing for extensive monitoring capabilities. Just days after requesting access, Hawkins received clearances to use HiPerGator, credentials for a workspace in a secured building, and more. Hawkins is based in UFIT’s offices on East Campus close to HiPerGator and Gainesville Regional Airport, where a NASA plane operated by Armstrong Flight Research Center lands daily with new data. Hawkins is appreciative of this collaboration with Gator Nation:
“UFIT has gone out of its way, in both timeliness and depth of services provided. In less than a week I had the physical access and account access necessary to do my work. Pretty amazing since we didn’t have a pre-existing relationship.”