Even as Hurricane Earl was bearing down on the East Coast with winds of 135 mph, a special radar designed at the Center for Advanced and Communications Antennas (CASCA) was playing a key role in NASA's largest experiment ever launched to study the formation of hurricanes. The High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Profiler, or HIWRAP, is a unique antenna system designed in 2008 by Justin Creticos as part of his Ph.D. research in the Antenna and Propagation Laboratory of CASCA. Beginning on August 15, NASA deployed HIWRAP in a Global Hawk unmanned drone during its Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) hurricane experiment.
The HIWRAP radar was built by Remote Sensing Solutions of Barnstable, Massachusetts. It is one of four science instruments being carried by the remotely operated high-altitude aircraft during the NASA GRIP hurricane study, which lasted through September 25.
Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Head Kris Hollot called HIWRAP a “cool and timely application to hurricanes of Justin Creticos' Ph.D. work under advisor Dan Schaubert.”
GRIP is NASA’s first domestic hurricane project since 2001. The agency assembled the largest ever experiment to investigate the unanswered question of how a tropical depression is kick-started into a full-fledged hurricane. Seven planes from NASA, NOAA, and the NSF, as well as multiple NASA satellites, were used in the research.
The Antennas and Propagation Laboratory has been serving the campus community, government agencies, and global industries for over 25 years. The work performed in the lab includes antenna design and analysis and radio wave propagation. Headed by some of the world's leading experts in the field, the lab offers state-of-the-art facilities to project partners and to outside researchers on a fee-for-service basis.
Remote Sensing Solutions develops integrated systems and innovative software applications used by the scientific community, operational agencies of the government, and the private sector. The company is an agile systems provider centered on research and development within the realm of remote sensing technologies, including the development of microwave and millimeter-wave systems providing terrestrial, surface water, ocean, and atmospheric remote sensing and imaging. (September 2010)