Drones are now being engineered for use in tough and extreme conditions with scientists using them to explore erupting volcanoes.
Fitted with photographic recording equipment and built to withstand blistering temperatures, drones are being sent out to erupting volcanoes capturing amazing images and collecting samples without risk to human life. The research collected in turn helps volcanologists monitor volcanic activity aiding them in predicting eruptions and learning more about their volatile behavior during an eruption.
NASA first experimented with UAV’s during the 1970s but the technology required to build them successfully was just too pricy to tempt researchers to use them. However, during the past decade more cost effective technical advances such as GPS and autopilot technology has lowered the price of UAV technology allowing many scientific groups to experiment with their use in research and education. The most beneficial factor to researchers is that UAVs do not require a human on board to pilot it, which takes away the danger factor. Originally volcanologists would have to trek to volcanoes and take manual samples, risking danger from toxic fumes. Also, to get close to an erupting volcano researcher could only hire a piloted helicopter, again with the risk that that entails. However, now drone technology has created new opportunities for capturing data and amazing images from volcanoes.
Here is an inspiartional example below.....
The Bárðarbunga volcano in Iceland erupted from August 2014 to February 2015. In February 2015 Eric Cheng, director of aerial imaging for DJI successfully flew two drones over the Bárðarbunga volcano and the Holuhraun lava field. Cheng was able to get some amazing images from 160 feet above the Volcano. The drones amazingly survived the boiling temperatures as they glided over the volcano and its molten rivers of rock-check out this amazing footage below!
Drones in geographical sciences are an incredible asset and their use is continuing to grow. Further technological developments, such as those being engineered in the example above by DJI will no doubt continue to push the boundaries and capabilities for further scientific research.
Combining raw energy and power that rises to the surface, Iceland is home to some of the most extraordinary physical features in the world today. Appropriately labelled the Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is a geographical freak of nature with volcanoes that can shut down European airspace for 6 days. It is therefore little wonder that scientists are developing sophisticated technologies to withstand extreme and harsh climates to uncover more about Iceland's fascinating physical features.
Another volcano with an intriguing history that continues to amaze and baffle scientists is Mount Vesuvius in the gulf of Naples. Best known for its eruption in AD 79, the active volcano destroyed the nearby Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum burying them in a pyroclastic flow of hot ash leaving behind a wealth of archaeological remains that students can explore on a geography school trip to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Complete with our fantastic GCSE focused project workbooks, both Iceland and Sorrento are ideally suited for students studying volcanoes and nothing brings geography alive more vividly than visiting the places where it all takes place.
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