Image: YouTube

It’s not just the intense heat that makes it hard for researchers to closely study an active volcano, there’s also a potpourri of noxious gases that are less than ideal to inhale. But at the controls of a sensor-laden drone, scientists from the University of Cambridge have been able to capture amazing close-up footage of Guatemalan eruptions.

Using a custom fixed wing UAV (essentially an RC plane) the scientists were able to fly to the peak of Volcán de Fuego and Volcán de Pacaya in Guatemala, allowing them to sample and document volcanic emissions that could otherwise not have been detected. In the future, the research could be used to help better monitor volcanoes, and predict eruptions, giving locals more time to get to safely ahead of an impending disaster.

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[YouTube via University of Cambridge]