Credit: NOAA

This animation shows a NOAA WP-3D Orion Hurricane Hunter aiplane releasing several dropsondes during a flight through a hurricane. Dropsondes are instrument packages that measure temperature, humidity, air pressure and wind speed and direction. Each dropsonde uses a radio transmitter to send its data back to the airplane multiple times per second. The dropsondes have small parachutes to slow their fall. Dropsondes allow scientists to collect data at all altitudes, from the cruising altitude of the plane right down to the ocean's surface.