When the sun disappears behind the moon on Monday, scientists will be ready. The astrophysics of the eclipse are known, so for space watchers it will be a time to relax and partake in the strange beauty of day gone suddenly dark. For the atmospheric scientist however, the eclipse provides a shining opportunity to directly study how the sun influences weather patterns by heating the atmosphere. To that end, a team of researchers from Oklahoma State University and the University of Nebraska is going to spend Monday tracking changes in the atmosphere in the path of the eclipse. And to get just how the eclipse changes the weather in the low sky, the team will fly drones during the totality.
Every armory is a potential explosion waiting to happen. And in Eastern Ukraine, a stockpile of ammunition recently ignited, spewing smoke and fire into the sky in a dramatic video. The culprit? A small drone carrying a 1-pound grenade armed with the pyrotechnic substance thermite.
Dr. Adam Watts of the Desert Research Institute is standing by the side of the road near Donner Pass, shouting over the wind into his phone to talk about a recent test flight. “We built a robot that can fly itself and bring more water out of clouds,” he says, capturing the technological promise at hand in just a few words. Together with Nevada's Drone America, the team flew a cloud-seeding drone beyond the pilot's line of sight. It's the next step in a gradual and ambitious process, aimed at solving a decades-old problem: can the desert pull more water from the sky, and can it do so without injuring anyone along the way?