NASA VolcanoBot 1 explores volcano in Hawaii

NASA is aiming for the farthest reaches of space, but not all of its activities take place on planets elsewhere. In recent months, the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory took to Hawaii where a small robot — dubbed the VolcanoBot 1 — was fed into an inactive volcanic fissure where no human can ever tread. From its position there, the robot is able to acquire information on volcanoes that might otherwise be difficult or impossible to glean, leading to expanded research efforts in the future.

There are a total of two robots right now, both of them featured below. The VolcanoBot 1 is the bigger of the two and was sent into a fissure of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii in May of last year. Later on this year, the researchers will use the smaller bot named VolcanoBot 2.

One possible benefit of these robots is learning more precise reasons for why a volcano erupts. Existing models can be fleshed out with more robust details, for example. The project managed to catch the attention of National Geographic's Expedition Granted program.

Of course, this effort can also lead to improved exploration of volcanoes on planets other than our own, including on Mars. It'll take a while before a robot is developed to explore those regions; the VolcanoBot 1 is taking the lead, doing so with a 12-inch x 6.7-inch body.