If Mt. Saint Helens erupts again, a team of scientists and engineers will be monitoring with space age technology from NASA.


Mount St. Helens.
Most active, deadly volcano in recent U.S. history

Eruptions come with little warning

Tech Know
Space Age Volcano Monitoring Network

The Team:
-U.S. Geological Survey
-Washington State University

Steve Chien, Principal Scientist for Autonomous Systems
Well, what we've done is we've deployed a set of sensors to the Mt Saint Helens volcano.

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.

The sensors have artificial intelligence.

Steve Chien
We can detect the differences between snow falling off 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.

The sensors talk to each other and NASA's Earth Observing-1.

Sharon Kehar, Geophysicist
We have a ground component and a space component and they are working in unison.

They are working in concert and they can talk to each other and effect each others decisions.

In the context of volcano monitoring, we want to have the best educated guess to make decisions that will save lives and property.

From Earth's volcanoes to distant environments

Steve Chien
Someday we'd like to deploy sensors very similar to this to Mars.

That would enable us to study all kinds of interesting events at Mars;

Atmospheric events, such as dust storms, which are sort of mini tornadoes,

to study the freezing and thawing of the Martian ice cap, and also to study Mars quakes.

These extreme environments abound everywhere in the solar system ranging from gaseous satellites such as Titan, which is one of the moons of Saturn, to a potential undersea ocean at Europa.

These are all very exciting places where we would like to go to search out all the nooks

and crannies of the solar system, mainly to search for life.

And these kinds of sensors are exactly what will enable us to go there and explore.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

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