NASA and NOAA both had aircraft flying through and around storms Saturday afternoon taking important measurements.
— Chris Schultz (@cschultzwx) April 22, 2017
NOAA hurricane hunters were flying over the Valley to help gather data for the ongoing VORTEX-SE project. That project is studying tornadic development across the Southeast and is now in its second year.
The other plane was a NASA ER-2. NASA is using the high-altitude ER-2 as part of a field campaign to help calibrate the GOES-16 weather satellite. The GOES-16 is carrying the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), but the accuracy of their data still needs to be confirmed before it’s considered reliable.
While the instruments aboard GOES-16 take measurements, the field campaign will be taking measurements and gathering data on the same area. The field campaign can then confirm the data coming in from the GOES-16. The field campaign includes more than just the NASA ER-2 though; high-altitude planes, ground-based sensors, unmanned aircraft systems, the International Space Station, and a polar-orbiting satellite will all help validate GOES-16 data. The campaign will continue through May 22.