Scientists are flying into snowstorms to explore winter weather mysteries

High up in some ice-filled clouds, sitting inside an airplane loaded with science instruments, Christian Nairy looked at pictures flashing on his computer screen. This high-altitude slideshow is displaying real-time images of cloud particles being sampled by a device out on the plane's wing — and some of the ice crystals looked like perfect little snowflakes.

The P-3 research plane leaving its hangar at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Patrick Black/NASA