'Spiderbots' inside Mount St Helens may detect impending volcanic eruption

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Washington, August 15 (ANI): NASA scientists have placed about a dozen monitoring 'spiderbots' inside the volcanic crater in Mount St Helens in the US, which are high-tech devices that can detect an impending eruption.

Mount St. Helens is one of the most active volcanoes in the US. Its most devastating eruption in 1980, and the most recent seen here in 2004.

According to a report in National Geographic News, about a dozen so-called Spiders were placed on Mount St. Helens in July.

The pods, designed to go where no human can, were lowered by helicopter inside and around the volcano center.

"We can detect the differences between snow falling off of a branch, an animal running by, wind, a thunderstorm and the very subtle signatures of magma moving at depth, perhaps even kilometers beneath the surface of the earth," said Steve Chien, Principal Scientist, Autonomous Systems, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory .

The pods form a virtual wireless network and communicate with each other and a NASA satellite called Earth Observing-1, or EO-1.

Each pod contains a seismometer, a GPS receiver, an infrared sounder to sense explosions, and a lightning detector.

According to Chien, "They have the ability to recognize different kinds of events such as seismic events, earthquakes, that are basically indications that something is happening at the volcano."

"In the context of volcano monitoring, we want to have the best educated guess to make decisions that will save life and properties," said Sharon Kedar, Geophysicist, NASA /Jet Propulsion Laboratoy.

NASA would like to someday use this same technology on the surface of Mars to study atmospheric events like dust storms, which are mini-tornadoes, as well as seismic activity. (ANI)

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