The first video from inside a Category 4 hurricane
Sci-Tech

The first video from inside a Category 4 hurricane

Saildrone is the name of an American company that produces drones – unmanned and remotely operated vehicles – designed to navigate. Until now mainly used to map dangerous or difficult to reach areas, the Saildrones have been the protagonists in these days of a decidedly risky, spectacular and also scientifically relevant enterprise: as reported by the New York Times, among other things, and as you can see in the video above, a Saildrone plunged into the heart of a category 4 hurricane, where it was able to measure a series of parameters (for example the wind speed and its acceleration) and observe some processes that until now we had never had the opportunity to study so closely – for obvious safety reasons.

The dangerous exploration is the result of a collaboration between Saildrone and NOAA, the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (here the details of the expedition), and saw the USV – an acronym for Uncrewed Surface Vehicle – enter collision course with Hurricane Sam. Until a few days ago, Hurricane Sam, which raged in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, was classified as category 4 (out of 5), the most violent of this season (here you can find the same previous video, but alongside the geographical location of the hurricane). After 3 October Sam was demoted to category 2, but Saildrone managed to explore it in the last days of September, when it was still characterized by winds over 200 km / h. It is the first time in history that we have been able to obtain live images of what NOAA has called “one of the most hostile environments on the planet”.

The company has not only given us spectacular images, but also invaluable scientific data. The Saildrone was in fact able to measure a series of parameters relating to the evolution of the hurricane, and in particular to its intensification process: for example the amount of energy that is exchanged between air and water, or how much the friction between the hurricane and the ocean succeeds to slow down the first. The exploration is only the first of a long series of planned expeditions (or already in progress: at the moment there are four other Saildrones around the oceans), and the video we showed you is great news in this sense: demonstrates that these USVs are able to withstand extreme weather conditions without suffering damage, and thus give us first-hand data on the evolution of hurricanes that we would have had no other way of recovering without risking human lives.