Hit by five cyclones on its eastern coast last year, India is planning to procure a NASA aircraft equipped with a lab to study wind patterns at high altitude for better prediction of such calamities.
"We are procuring McDonnell Douglas DC-8 aircraft from Nasa and we should hopefully get it by 2015-2016. This aircraft has a laboratory within itself and will be helpful in studying wind patterns," Ministry of Earth Science (MoES) Secretary Shailesh Nayak told PTI.
The government has also tied up with University of Massachusetts, US for research on weather patterns in the country especially in the Bay of Bengal, he said.
"The aircraft will help in gathering data at high altitudes, especially the wind patterns, and to conduct experiments in the aircraft itself," a scientist at MoES said.
This assumes significance as several cyclones, including the powerful Phailin that left a trail of destruction, had hit the country's eastern coast last year.
Indian Meteorological Department chief Laxman Singh Rathore had last month said five cyclones including Phailin and Helen had originated in the Bay of Bengal.
A senior scientist from the MoES said that wind is a major factor in determining the atmosphere and despite predictions of cyclones, it was necessary to study wind patterns in depth.
"We know why cyclones take place and the formation process, but it was also important to understand why so many cyclones were hitting the eastern coast," the scientist said.
NASA uses the DC-8 aircraft as a flying science laboratory. The platform aircraft, based at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California, collects data for several experiments in support of scientific projects.
Data gathered by the aircraft and by remote sensing have been used for studies in archaeology, ecology, geography, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, volcanology, atmospheric chemistry, cryospheric science, soil science and biology.