Archive for April, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Life on Mars to become a reality in 2023, Dutch firm claims

Thousands apply to become one of four astronauts selected to set up a human colony in a plan that comes with snags

Mars, 2001, with the southern polar ice cap vi...

A few months before he died, Carl Sagan recorded a message of hope to would-be Mars explorers, telling them: “Whatever the reason you’re on Mars is, I’m glad you’re there. And I wish I was with you.”

On Monday, 17 years after the pioneering astronomer set out his hopeful vision of the future in 1996, a company from the Netherlands is proposing to turn Sagan’s dreams of reaching Mars into reality. The company, Mars One, plans to send four astronauts on a trip to the Red Planet to set up a human colony in 2023. But there are a couple of serious snags.

Firstly, when on Mars their bodies will have to adapt to surface gravity that is 38% of that on Earth. It is thought that this would cause such a total physiological change in their bone density, muscle strength and circulation that voyagers would no longer be able to survive in Earth’s conditions. Secondly, and directly related to the first, they will have to say goodbye to all their family and friends, as the deal doesn’t include a return ticket.

The Mars One website states that a return “cannot be anticipated nor expected”. To return, they would need a fully assembled and fuelled rocket capable of escaping the gravitational field of Mars, on-board life support systems capable of up to a seven-month voyage and the capacity either to dock with a space station orbiting Earth or perform a safe re-entry and landing.

“Not one of these is a small endeavour” the site notes, requiring “substantial technical capacity, weight and cost”.

Nevertheless, the project has already had 10,000 applicants, according to the company’s medical director, Norbert Kraft. When the official search is launched on Monday at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York, they expect tens of thousands more hopefuls to put their names forward.

Kraft told the Guardian that the applicants so far ranged in age from 18 to at least 62 and, though they include women, they tended to be men.

The reasons they gave for wanting to go were varied, he said. One of three examples Kraft forwarded by email to the Guardian cited Sagan.

An American woman called Cynthia, who gave her age as 32, told the company that it was a “childhood imagining” of hers to go to Mars. She described a trip her mother had taken her on in the early 1990s to a lecture at the University of Wisconsin.

In a communication to Mars One, she said the lecturer had been Sagan and she had asked him if he thought humans would land on Mars in her lifetime. Cynthia said: “He in turn asked me if I wanted to be trapped in a ‘tin can spacecraft’ for the two years it would take to get there. I told him yes, he smiled, and told me in all seriousness, that yes, he absolutely believed that humans would reach Mars in my lifetime.”

She told the project: “When I first heard about the Mars One project I thought, this is my chance – that childhood dream could become a reality. I could be one of the pioneers, building the first settlement on Mars and teaching people back home that there are still uncharted territories that humans can reach for.”

The prime attributes Mars One is looking for in astronaut-settlers is resilience, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust and resourcefulness, according to Kraft. They must also be over 18.

Professor Gerard ‘t Hooft, winner of the Nobel prize for theoretical physics in 1999 and lecturer of theoretical physics at the University of Utrecht, Holland, is an ambassador for the project. ‘T Hooft admits there are unknown health risks. The radiation is “of quite a different nature” than anything that has been tested on Earth, he told the BBC.

Founded in 2010 by Bas Lansdorp, an engineer, Mars One says it has developed a realistic road map and financing plan for the project based on existing technologies and that the mission is perfectly feasible. The website states that the basic elements required for life are already present on the planet. For instance, water can be extracted from ice in the soil and Mars has sources of nitrogen, the primary element in the air we breathe. The colony will be powered by specially adapted solar panels, it says.

In March, Mars One said it had signed a contract with the American firm Paragon Space Development Corporation to take the first steps in developing the life support system and spacesuits fit for the mission.

The project will cost a reported $6bn (£4bn), a sum Lansdorp has said he hopes will be met partly by selling broadcasting rights. “The revenue garnered by the London Olympics was almost enough to finance a mission to Mars,” Lansdorp said, in an interview with ABC News in March.

Another ambassador to the project is Paul Römer, the co-creator of Big Brother, one of the first reality TV shows and one of the most successful.

On the website, Römer gave an indication of how the broadcasting of the project might proceed: “This mission to Mars can be the biggest media event in the world,” said Römer. “Reality meets talent show with no ending and the whole world watching. Now there’s a good pitch!”

The aim is to establish a permanent human colony, according to the company’s website. The first team would land on the surface of Mars in 2023 to begin constructing the colony, with a team of four astronauts every two years after that.

The project is not without its sceptics, however, and concerns have been raised about how astronauts might get to the surface and establish a colony with all the life support and other requirements needed. There were also concerns over the health implications for the applicants.

Dr Veronica Bray, from the University of Arizona’s lunar and planetary laboratory, told BBC News that Earth was protected from solar winds by a strong magnetic field, without which it would be difficult to survive. The Martian surface is very hostile to life. There is no liquid water, the atmospheric pressure is “practically a vacuum”, radiation levels are higher and temperatures vary wildly. High radiation levels can lead to increased cancer risk, a lowered immune system and possibly infertility, she said.

To minimise radiation, the project team will cover the domes they plan to build with several metres of soil, which the colonists will have to dig up.

The mission hopes to inspire generations to “believe that all things are possible, that anything can be achieved” much like the Apollo moon landings.

“Mars One believes it is not only possible, but imperative that we establish a permanent settlement on Mars in order to accelerate our understanding of the formation of the solar system, the origins of life, and of equal importance, our place in the universe” it says.

The longest anyone has ever spent in space is 438 days, achieved by Valeri Polyakov, of Russia, in a manned space flight in 1994.

But the Mars One website states: “While a cosmonaut on board the Mir was able to walk upon return to Earth after 13 months in a weightless environment, after a prolonged stay on Mars the human body will not be able to adjust to the higher gravity of Earth upon return.

“There is a point in time after which the human body will have adjusted to the 38% gravitation field of Mars, and be incapable of returning to the Earth’s much stronger gravity. This is due to the total physiological change in the human body, which includes reduction in bone density, muscle strength, and circulatory system capacity.”


PostHeaderIcon Unbelievable Wingsuit Cave Flight! Batman Cave, Alexander Polli

Winguit / BASE-jump athlete Alexander Polli does the never before done—a tactical flight through a narrow cave on a rugged mountainside. The flight starts with a jump from a hovering helicopter, Alexander reaches speeds of 250 km/h (155 mph) while following a precise trajectory leading to the cave opening, he then fully commits and flies directly through the narrow opening of the “Batman Cave!”
Shot in full HD, this extraordinary flight exceeds the level of commitment most fliers would ever consider—there can be no attempting, the only option is success!
The narrow cave, no wider than Alexander is tall, is located in Roca Foradada Mountains in Montserrat, Spain—a location that has inspired this professional Italian Norwegian athlete’s flying dream his whole life. Alexander hopes his success will inspire others not only to ‘climb over their mountains,’ but to also fly right through them!

wingsuit alex polli

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Post-production: Sugodesign

Music and sound design:
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PostHeaderIcon 7.8 Earthquake near Iran-Pakistan border kills 40

A major earthquake hit a region near the Iran-Pakistan border today, reportedly killing at least 40 people in the second deadly quake in the area in less than a week.

Survivors search the rubble, a day after an earthquake, at the city of Shonbeh, southern Iran, on April 10 following a 6.1-magnitude earthquake that killed dozens and injured hundreds. Less than a week later, on Tuesday, another deadly earthquake hit a region near the Iran-Pakistan border.

The state television network in Iran, Press TV, is reporting 40 killed in the latest quake, which hit less than a week after a quake in Iran killed at least 37 people.

The country’s seismological centre has pegged Tuesday’s earthquake at a magnitude 7.5, and said it was centred near Saravan, a sparsely populated area about 48 kilometres from the Pakistani border.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the preliminary magnitude at 7.8 and at a depth of 15.2 kilometres.

The quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, and the Gulf cities of Dubai and Bahrain.

Across the Gulf, highrise buildings swayed and officials ordered evacuations. Dubai has the world’s tallest tower, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa.

Last week’s 6.1-magnitude quake hit about 96 kilometres southeast of Bushehr, the site of Iran’s reactor.

PostHeaderIcon China’s geoengineering plans dismissed as “fantasy”

The authorities are increasing their cloud-seeding ambitions in response to drought, but many experts are sceptical about the benefits

article image
China has a long history of “rainmaking”, but experts are sharply divided on the merits. (Image by

Airplanes loaded with cloud-seeding chemicals swept across southwest China early last month in a bid to bring rain to the drought-parched region. Tens of thousands of rockets and battalions of cannons stood poised to ambush stray clouds that might pass unwittingly into view.

By mid March a light, sporadic drizzle over Yunnan province brought welcome relief to farmers and residents struggling into a fourth consecutive year of severe drought. Local newspapers heralded the rains as the province’s first successful large scale cloud-seeding operations of the year.

This was the latest episode in China’s attempts to control the weather.

The water-starved country already has the world’s largest weather engineering programmes, and these look set to grow. In February, China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, announced plans to step up cloud-seeding and other weather modification techniques to tackle drought and boost agriculture.

Cloud-seeding is the oldest and most common weather modification technology, and often a resort during drought. It involves injecting clouds with frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) or silver iodide, using military aircraft, cannons or rockets, to speed up the production of rain.

China’s bid to use cloud-seeding to guarantee blue skies during the 2008 Beijing Olympics caught global attention. But the country’s history of “rainmaking” stretches back into the distant past. Marco Polo reportedly returned to Europe from Cathay with an “explosive yellow powder” – and tales of how the Chinese used it to trigger rain, historian James R Fleming points out in his book .

Today, China spends US$100 million a year on operations to make rain, prevent hailstorms, contribute to fire fighting and counteract dust storms in almost every province.

It’s a figure expected to grow. “Weather modification technology is crucial to China,” Zheng Guoguang, head of the China Meteorological Administration, told China Daily in 2012. During China’s 12th Five-Year plan period “our goal is to reduce losses caused by weather disasters from 3% of GDP last year to 1% by the end of the period.”

Doubts about effectiveness

China is not the only country looking for technological fixes to water scarcity. The popularity of cloud-seeding has rocketed over the past decade, as governments, companies and scientists turn to large-scale interventions in our climate systems – known as geoengineering – as a potential fix for water shortages and global warming.

In the US, cloud-seeding is used to boost rainfall during spring planting, suppress hail, increase snowpack in the Rocky Mountains and divert and weaken hurricanes. Scientists working for the Abu Dhabi government claimed to have created more than 50 rainstorms in Al Ain in July and August of 2010, the peak of summer. Indonesia recently said it had used cloud-seeding to prevent further flooding in its inundated capital Jakarta.Iraq, Yemen, India and Mexico all have their own programmes.

“Worldwide more than 40 or 50 countries are doing cloud-seeding,” says Roelof Bruintjes one of the world’s leading experts on weather modification at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research who has helped many countries design and improve weather modification programmes, including China.

“With so many countries doing this, getting the science right is important.”

China’s false hopes on geoengineering

Though a prominent advocate of weather modification, Bruintjes is critical of China’s methods. Despite the wishful thinking of policymakers, cloud-seeding is “not a drought busting tool”, he says, pointing out that drought tends to mean less cloud – and without cloud, you can’t cloud-seed. Such techniques should be used as a long-term water management tool rather than a quick fix, he says.

Paul Sayers, a water expert at the University of Oxford who is advising the Chinese government on drought planning, also dismisses cloud-seeding as a solution to drought, arguing the authorities need to get a better balance between supply and demand management. “Drought plans can’t just be about infrastructure – desalination, cloud-seeding – China needs to think about drought in a more strategic way.” A start would be to find a way of prioritising water allocations during drought to avoid irreversible environmental damage, he says.

Experts are in fact sharply divided on the efficacy of cloud-seeding. TheChina Meteorological Administration claims its weather manipulations helped to release 490 billion tonnes of rain – about 12 times the water storage of the Three Gorges Project – between 2002 and 2012. But many are sceptical about such lofty claims, as well as China’s recent noises about more ambitious programmes.

“My first impression is that it’s very much more of a public relations effort than it might be a technically sound proposition,” says Fleming, who is professor of science, technology and society at Colby University in Maine. Being seen to do something about China’s worsening drought at least demonstrates an attempt to fix the problem, even if it achieves little.

As the world invests more in geoengineering, China is also likely to want to stay at the front of the pack, he says: “If China is becoming a world leader economically and in some ways militarily, they’re going to have to position themselves as a player in this field, even if from my point of view it’s a slight fantasy.”

Does it work?

The danger, Fleming argues, is that a focus on weather manipulation distracts from the lifestyle changes that can really make a difference to our environment. The biggest impact on the Beijing Olympics came not from the much-hyped “cocktail of artillery shell ordinance” used to bust up clouds, he says, but lower-key measures to slow down traffic into the city, which reduced hydrocarbons and helped clear the air, compounded by a “fortuitous weather pattern”.

This gets to the heart of the problem with evaluating cloud-seeding, namely the difficulty proving cause and effect. Weather is complex, shifting and difficult to understand – crediting shell fire for subsequent rain is easy enough in political rhetoric, but harder to stand up scientifically.

Some of the research that has been done strikes a sceptical tone. In 2003, the US National Research Council published a study that questioned the effectiveness of cloud-seeding and the extent of impacts outside of local areas. The report called for greater research into practices for understanding and improving cloud-seeding impacts.

To complicate things further, rising levels of pollution in the atmosphere could reduce the effectiveness of cloud-seeding, says Bruintjes. His research on inadvertent weather modification, including the effects of smoke and pollution on clouds and rainfall, suggests that what works in an unpolluted region may not in a highly polluted one.

He says more research is urgently needed in China, where the approach has been chaotic and unscientific:“They have made some claims but there is no evaluation available that can substantiate their claims,” he says. China has started to invest more in upgrading technology and evaluation methods, adds Bruintjes, but results will be slow to show.

Research is costly, admits Bruintjes, but if you can get 10-15% of water out of cloud, it’s cost-effective – “five to 15 times cheaper” than any water-saving alternative, such as building reservoirs, desalination plants or water-transfer programmes.

Fears of local and regional conflict

Concerns stretch beyond efficacy and cost, however. Fleming points out that commerce is playing a driving role in weather modification. His studies of dry areas of the US show funding for rainfall enhancement is coming not from the government, but from water companies, irrigation companies and hydropower companies.

Officials in China have also talked about providing cloud-seeding as a service to the private sector. The prospect of companies paying for rain to fall in one area – potentially meaning it won’t fall somewhere else – will inevitably raise knotty questions about water rights and public access to resources.

Some commentators are also fearful that growing use of weather modification could lead to conflict both within and between states.

Its development is already closely linked with military espionage. During the Cold War, US scientists debated weather modification as one way to destroy Soviet agricultural harvests and incite internal dissent. The US military used cloud-seeding in the Vietnam War to disrupt transport of military supplies along the Ho Chi Minh, a move it’s claimed triggered catastrophic flooding and widespread starvation.

James Lee, professor at the American University, Washington and author ofClimate Change and Armed Conflict, has even suggested the US military is investing in cloud-seeding as an excuse for developing drones. Almost inevitably, Lee fears the widespread use of weather modification could trigger resource conflicts: “There are so many countries involved in this that I think at some time, one country is going to say to the other ‘hey, you’re stealing our rain’.”

PostHeaderIcon Major Ed Dames – Japan/North Korea/Solar Killshot (Dramatic Predictions)

The world’s foremost remote viewing teacher, Edward A. Dames, Major, U.S. Army (ret.) is a decorated military intelligence officer and an original member of the U.S. Army prototype remote viewing training program. He served as the training and operations officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency’s psychic intelligence (PSIINT) collection unit, and currently serves as executive director for the Matrix Intelligence Agency, a private consulting group.
He served as both training and operations officer for the U.S. government’s TOP SECRET psychic espionage unit.

PostHeaderIcon M6.5 Solar Flare + CME / Proton Levels

M6.5 Solar Flare + CME / Proton Levels
The strongest solar flare in quite some time took place within the past couple of hours around Sunspot 1719. The moderately strong event measuring M6.5 took place at 07:16 UTC. A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is now visible in the latest STEREO Ahead and STEREO Behind COR2 imagery. Because 1719 is now squarely facing Earth, the plasma should be directed this way. This will raise the chances of geomagnetic storming by this weekend. Stay Tuned to for the latest information.

Click HERE for video capturing the Solar Flare and CME.

ALERT: Type II Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2013 Apr 11 0702 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 1370 km/s
Description: Type II emissions occur in association with eruptions on the sun and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection is associated with a flare event.

ALERT: Type IV Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2013 Apr 11 0702 UTC
Description: Type IV emissions occur in association with major eruptions on the sun and are typically associated with strong coronal mass ejections and solar radiation storms.

CME Update: A bright Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is visible within the new Lasco imagery. It appears in this image that a bulk of the plasma is directed towards the east, however although hard to see in the image below, there is an earthward component that should impact Earth. Stay Tuned for updates.

Proton Levels: Energetic Proton levels streaming past Earth are now on the rise following the solar flare from earlier. A radiation storm will soon be possible.

Credit –

PostHeaderIcon Solar Flares: Scientists Change 2013 Predictions …

Solar flare predictions for 2013 are once again fluctuating. Space weather experts at NOAA and NASA agree that we are nearing the peak of the Sun’s 11-year cycle, but that is about the only fact that has garnered a consensus lately.

Massive X6.9 class solar flare, August 9, 2011...

Coronal mass ejections (CME) are formed from sun spots. Scientists only learned how solar flares were formed during the past two decades. Since then, attempts to track and predict both CME direction and intensity have been ongoing. Solar Cycle 24 was expected to hit its peak in 2013, but then the experts thought the peak might be on the two-hump variety. Recent solar flare reports largely indicated that the solar peak would likely occur in May. Now the solar storm experts think Sun Cycle 24 might not peak until later in 2013 or possibly even 2014.

Basically, when or if a massive Earth-directed solar flare will hit is unknown. Solar flare activity has relatively quiet as of late. The lack of CMEs has some scientists believing Sun Cycle 24 will have a weak peak, yet others think this could be the calm before the storm.

NASA solar physicist C. Alex Young said, “If you look back in history, many of the previous solar cycles don’t have one ump, one maximum, but in fact have two.” The physicist was a featured speakers on NASA’s “Solar MAX Storm Warning: Effects on the Solar System webcast.

Concerns about a Carrington Event strength solar flare have some scientists prodding Congress to do more to protect our aging and overly-taxed power grid. Stores which sell prepping and survival products are booming. Fears about the possible life-changing impact a massive Earth-directed solar flare could bring are not the only reasons survival gear retailers have experienced a recent surge in sales. EMP attack threats by North Korea and the ongoing gun control debate also likely play a role in purchase habits of survival-focused Americans.

Solar activity, while relatively calm, remains ongoing. The most recent large coronal mass ejections happened on March 15. The CMA prompted a “glancing blow” at Earth two days after it was spotted. The solar flare prompted a mild geomagnetic storm which did not boast any significant effects on the planet.

A strong Earth-directed solar flare has the potential to render the power grid inoperable for various amounts of times, and end radio and GPS signals. The duration of a downed power grid would depend on both the power of the CME and the ability to garner replacement transformers and other necessary repair equipment.

How concerned about you about the power grid if Earth is hit by a maximum solar flare?

PostHeaderIcon Iran earthquake death toll rises

Three days of mourning declared after magnitude 6.1 quake hits country’s south, while nuclear plant in region is declared safe

An Iranian woman receives medical treatment after an earthquake struck the country's south

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake killed at least 37 and injured hundreds more in a sparsely populated area in southern Iran on Tuesday, Iranian officials said, adding that it did not damage a nuclear plant in the region.

The report said the earthquake struck the town of Kaki, 60 miles (96km) south-east of Bushehr on the Persian Gulf and home of Iran’s first nuclear power plant, built with Russian help.

“No damage was done to Bushehr power plant,” the Bushehr provincial governor, Fereidoun Hasanvand, told state TV. He said 37 people had died so far and 850 were injured, including 100 who had been taken to hospital.

The plant’s chief, Mahmoud Jafari, confirmed the site’s condition to semi-official Mehr news agency, saying that it could resist earthquakes of up to magnitude eight.

Water and electricity were cut to many residents, said Ebrahim Darvishi, governor of the worst-hit district, Shonbeh.

The International Atomic Energy Agency indicated it was satisfied there was little danger. The UN’s nuclear watchdog said it had been informed by Iran that there was no damage to the plant and no radioactive release and, based on its analysis of the earthquake, was not seeking additional information.

Shahpour Rostami, the deputy governor of Bushehr province, told state TV that rescue teams had been sent to Shonbeh. Three helicopters surveyed the damaged area, said Mohammad Mozaffar, the head of Iran’s Red Crescent rescue department. He said damage was particularly bad in the village of Baghan.

Kaki resident Mondani Hosseini told the Associated Press that people had run into the streets out of fear.

Dozens of aftershocks were reported by the official IRNA news agency. Iran has announced three days of mourning.

The quake was felt across the Gulf in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, where workers were evacuated from high-rise buildings as a precaution.

Earlier on Sunday a lighter earthquake jolted the nearby area. Iran is located on seismic faults and it experiences frequent earthquakes.

In 2003, about 26,000 people were killed by a 6.6 magnitude quake that flattened the historic south-eastern city of Bam.

In Russia, the head of the state agency responsible for the Bushehr project said the reactor was not producing fission by chain reaction when the quake hit. “Personnel at the station are continuing to work in a normal regime, the radiation conditions are within the norms of natural background,” Igor Mezenin was quoted as saying by the Itaar-Tass news agency.


PostHeaderIcon Nasa flies three decommissioned military drones over active volcano

A Nasa research team has been flying unmanned aerial vehicles(UAVs) into the sulphur dioxide plume of the active Turrialba Volcano in Costa Rica.

The team from Nasa’s Ames Research Centre used three Dragon Eye UAVs from the United States Marine Corps to fly into the volcanic plume and along the rim of the volcano’s crater in a series of flights in March 2013. The aim of the mission was to study the volcano’s chemical environment to improve the remote sensing capability of satellites and computer models of volcanic activity.

The drones flew very close to the rim of the volcano, the summit of which is around 3,200 metres above sea level, as well as several hundred metres above that. During the flights, the team compared the data they gathered relating to the concentrations of sulphur dioxide with that from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection (ASTER) instrument, attached to the Terra satellite. The plan is to develop computer models using the data to improve global climate predictions, safeguard airspace, and mitigate environmental hazards – such as volcanic smog or “vog” — for people who live near volcanoes.

In addition to measuring sulphur dioxide, the models need to take into account the intensity of volcanic activity near the eruption vent — this involves collecting data relating to the height of the ash plume as well as the temperatures over the vent. This will allow for more accurate predictions of the behaviour of volcanic eruptions.

Getting this data is particularly challenging, since volcanic ash — as many discovered when the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010 — poses a serious risk to aircraft engines.

David Pieri, the project’s principal investigator and a research scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “It is very difficult to gather data from within volcanic eruption columns and plumes because updraft wind speeds are very high and high ash concentrations can quickly destroy aircraft engines. Such flight environments can be very dangerous to manned aircraft. Volcanic eruption plumes may stretch for miles from a summit vent, and detached ash clouds can drift hundreds to thousands of miles from an eruption site.”

Because of these challenges, UAVs with electric engines — which don’t tend to intake huge amounts of air (and therefore ash) — can be an effective means of studying volcano. The Dragon Eye drones being used for this study are small vehicles, with a wingspan of a little over a metre and a weight of 2.7kg, which can carry a 500g instrument payload for up to an hour within the volcanic plume.

The drones were loaded with instruments including infrared cameras, sulphur dioxide sensors, and atmospheric sampling bottles

Matthew Fladeland, airborne science manager at Ames, said: “By taking these retired military tools, we can very efficiently and effectively collect measurements that improve Nasa satellite data and aviation safety.”

Next year the team plans to use the much bigger Sierra UAV, which weighs 180kg and can carry a payload of 45kg. It will be able to carry a mass spectrometer to measure a broader range of gases — including carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, helium, and sulphate nanoparticles — spewing from the volcano. In the long term, the team wants to develop a means of sampling volcanic plumes as high as 9,150m above sea level following large, explosive eruptions.