FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. --
A group of NASA scientists took flight Thursday afternoon headed directly into the eye of Hurricane Earl.
Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes, or GRIP as the research project is called, is an effort by the agency to help track and predict the strength of hurricanes with better accuracy. Using three different aircrafts, NASA will fly directly into the storm to collect vital data.
"We are trying to find reasons why storms intensify, and we need to look at both the large-scale picture of the outside of the storm itself, as well as taking a look on the inside of the storm," said scientist Edward Zipster, from aboard NASA's DC-8 aircraft.
The aircraft took off from its home base of Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport around noon Thursday and will spend eight hours collecting data.
Two other planes based in California and Texas will be used for hurricane research, including an unmanned drone known as the Global Hawk.
"It's the first hurricane research effort to ever use this type of machinery. The drone will allow us to go into the storm in places no manned aircraft would ever go," said pilot Dick Ewers.
Ewers said while research done by organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association have helped identify a storm's broad track, little is still known about its exact path and intensity.
Scientists will shine special laser beams into Hurricane Earl to measure its strength and map any changes.
Research flights will take place through the month of September and focus on several hurricanes. The data will then be researched for several months.
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