It’s not advisable to approach an erupting volcano when molten, 1,800-degree-Fahrenheit lava is gushing out of it.
That’s why researchers are developing hardy drones to withstand the blistering heat and help monitor volcanoes, one of nature’s most temperamental and dangerous threats.
Volcano drones can record and broadcast video, tow in shovels to scoop up rock samples, and even bottle deadly smog samples for analysis.
All this data helps volcanologists predict when a volcano will blow, where the lava will flow, and if they need to evacuate people.
Eric Cheng, director of aerial imaging for the drone-making company DJI, flew two of these durable drones over Iceland’s erupting Bárðarbunga volcano and the Holuhraun lava field it created in February, 2015.
The footage is incredible:
The drones had to withstand boiling temperatures…
…But also hold up against the frigid Icelandic winter. You can see the snowy landscape in the drones’ approach:
Cheng captured the footage from about 160 feet above the volcano. The surrounding lava field is nearly the size of Manhattan:
Volcanic drone technology is steadily improving, and it’s already helping save lives.
Watch the full video of Cheng’s lava flyover below.
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