The 5-year, $30 million experiment, called Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) airborne mission, is a joint project between NASA and a number of research partners to learn exactly what causes some storms to gain strength and others to fizzle out.
"Hurricane intensity can be very hard to predict because of an insufficient understanding of how clouds and wind patterns within a storm interact with the storm's environment," Scott Braun, HS3 mission principal investigator and research meteorologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.
The drones can suspend themselves over a storm at 65,000 feet for up to 30 hours. They are equipped with six different instruments to measure winds and precipitation within the storm. The instruments also measure various weather conditions, to determine the role of hot, dry or dusty air in the development of a storm.
The researchers hope this data will help to better predict hurricane intensity so meteorologists can give more accurate data to the public.
Photo via flickr/NASA