Sept. 7 exhibit in Washington, D.C., to showcase CU-Boulder 'supercell' tracking aircraft

Published: Sept. 6, 2011

The Tempest unmanned aircraft -- a University of Colorado Boulder-developed system that was the first to intercept a "supercell" thunderstorm -- will be exhibited at a Capitol Hill event on Wednesday, Sept. 7, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building, located on Constitution Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets NE in Washington, D.C.

Faculty and students from CU-Boulder's Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles teamed with researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to achieve the "supercell" interception by the Tempest in May 2010, collecting important meteorological data about severe storms that can spawn tornadoes. The fieldwork was part of the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment, or VORTEX2.

VORTEX2 was the largest tornado field project in history, involving more than 100 scientists and 40 support vehicles. Researchers literally surrounded severe storms with the latest technology to learn more about their birth, duration and wind speeds and to assess their potential to inflict death, injury and damage.

Tempest team leader and aerospace engineering sciences Professor Brian Argrow and aerospace engineering sciences Associate Professor Eric Frew will exhibit Tempest at the Capitol Hill event showcasing National Science Foundation-funded hazards research in recognition of National Preparedness Month.

Also displayed will be research on earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, oil spills and hurricanes, as well as human responses to these types of events.

Honorable guests and hosts include Sens. Harry Reid, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Bill Nelson.

An event flier is available at

For more information contact Argrow at 303-492-5312 or, Carol Rowe of the engineering college at 303-492-7426 or, or Elizabeth Lock of CU News Services at 303-492-3117 or