Have you ever wondered what it looks like inside of an active volcano?
You're not alone, if you have. Eric Cheng, director of aerial imaging at drone manufacturer DJI Innovations, has apparently thought about it as well, because he recently went to Iceland to capture the Bardabunga volcanic system using a DJI Phantom 2 drone equipped with a GoPro Hero 3+ camera. And now he is showing off the stunning footage for the first time.
Pocket-lint flew a DJI Phantom last year over the black sand desert in Iceland, the same location where actor Tom Cruise rode his bike in Oblivion. The area we visited was also near Holuhraun's Bardarbunga volcanic system. It erupted weeks ago and could continue erupting for a year, extending south under the ice sheet. If that happens, scientists believe it would lead to a catastrophic meltwater flood known as a jokulhlaup.
Cheng's videos, which are just a portion of an 11-hour journey, document how his team got within a mile of a volcano that was (and still is) hemorrhaging and throwing lava about 150m into an ash-laden sky. Relying on the DJI's 2.4GHz Lighbridge Wi-Fi system and 1.7km range, Cheng and his team were able to get extremely close to the volcano and even captured inside its rim.
They weren't worried about losing signal, because the Phantom 2 has the ability to automatically return to home if contact is lost. Contact was indeed lost during recording, due to the unimaginable temperatures inside of the volcano, but the memory card survived and Cheng was able to save the amazing footage. The GoPro camera, however, wasn't so lucky.
The same type of camera that was used to capture an Austrian skydiver jumping to Earth from a helium balloon in the stratosphere, enabling him to reach a top speed of 1357.64 km/h (Mach 1.25), somehow couldn't withstand the heat emitted from a volcano. The front of the GoPro Hero 3+ actually melted, causing the camera to stop working.
Watch the videos above and below to see the action for yourself. And if everything doesn't appear dramatic or dangerous enough for you, keep in mind that the very field Cheng stood upon in order to pilot the Phantom 2 became flooded with lava less than 24 hours later.