Flying a drone into the flying rocks and ash of an erupting volcano seems like a guaranteed way of ensuring you’ll never see it again, but a team of researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge have so far benefited in a big way from such missions.
They’ve been using several bespoke fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to help them learn more about how and why volcanos erupt. Sending its sensor-laden flying machine over a highly active volcano in Guatemala recently, the team has been able to take accurate temperature, humidity, and thermal measurements from within the ash cloud itself.
Most spectacular, however, is the footage (above) captured by the drone’s camera as it soars high above the volcano and flies directly through the mass of material ejected into the sky above.
The remotely controlled aircraft was flown successfully beyond the line of sight at distances of up to 5 miles (8