The Eye of the Hurricane: Scientists observe Hurricane Florence from above as well as within

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You may have heard of the NOAA Hurricane Hunters and their P3-Orion aircraft, and it's possible that you toured an Air Force 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squad's massive WC-130J Hercules airplane.

But why do they put their lives at risk to fly into hurricanes? And what's the difference between the NOAA Hurricane Hunters and the Air Force 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron?

While both organizations have numerous sets of rotating crews (each crew is allowed to fly up to 16 hour missions) for non-stop 24 hour surveillance, the Air Force crew is 100% dedicated to weather recon, while the NOAA crew may also be conducting data sampling for storm/hurricane research purposes.

Both NOAA and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters fly into the eye of Hurricane Florence to obtain critical -- and potentially life-saving -- data at the heart of the storm.

If you want to keep up to date on their missions, both the NOAA and Air Force Hurricane Hunters often tweet snapshots and quick videos of their latest missions.

NOAA's Hurricane Hunters often tweet their videos here via their account @NOAA_HurrHunter.

And the Air Force Hurricane Hunters often tweet their videos via their account @53rdWRS.

Tracking Hurricanes from Space

Orbiting the Earth at roughly 17,500 mph and around 250 mph above the ground, the International Space Station (ISS) hosts astronauts from many different nations from across the globe.

The ISS serves as an artificial habitat that provides a living space for the astronauts, and it also serves as a roving laboratory for experiments conducted in space.

The ISS orbits the earth every 90 minutes, which means the ISS has the opportunity to pass over Hurricane Florence as many as 16 times within one 24-hour day.

On Wednesday morning, German astronaut Alexander Gerst posted his phenomenal view of Hurricane Florence from space. In his images, the 500-mile wide storm was approaching the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. He said, "This is why the big picture matters, and listening to the official evacuation orders. These two photos are the same - just cropped differently. Please stay safe down there!"

The ISS eventually moved right over the center of Hurricane Florence, producing this spectacular -- if not bone chilling view:

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