Antarctica’s Mount Erebus may be covered with glaciers, but they do little to cool the volcano’s molten core. The world’s southernmost volcano to show activity during recorded history, Erebus holds a lava lake and occasionally experiences explosive eruptions. In 2004, the reliable presence of a lava lake at this volcano’s summit made Mount Erebus the perfect place to test a self-directed satellite and sensor.
This image was acquired by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) sensors on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite on February 6, 2009. The larger image shows a true-color, photo-like view of the volcano, and the inset image shows thermal activity, highlighting the volcano’s molten lava lake.
After the initial detection, the satellite gave itself new orders to take fresh observations of the volcano several hours later. Scientists who subsequently examined the data EO-1 acquired confirmed that a genuine thermal emission had been detected.
This Mount Erebus image shows a fairly typical level of activity for the volcano, including a molten lava lake and vapor emissions. Erebus is a stratovolcano composed of alternating layers of solidified ash, hardened lava, and rocks ejected by earlier eruptions.
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 Team. Caption by Michon Scott, based on image interpretation by Ashley Davies, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.