Scientists at Work
Our Science Advisory Board members work in a variety of fields, doing research and going on scientific adventures.
Here are some great ‘scientist at work’ pix from about 1972 in Hawaii, when I had the chance to join a night field trip to the eruption site Mauna Ulu (Growing Mountain), where a lava lake was quietly burbling below us as we peered carefully over the edge. The astronomer manning the flame spectrometer is Dale Cruikshank, who is trying to answer the question, “What is burning?”, since they had seen signs of flames coming from the lava. Could it be methane gas, or hydrogen perhaps, or carbonic material? Note the Moon behind him. The glow is light reflected from rising clouds of smoky material.
The middle picture shows the view over the edge of the lava lake below, maybe 100’ below us, where the lava cools fast from bright orange to red to black, as it moves from the active vent at the left, and forms rafts of dark material over the glowing lake underneath. The bright cracks show what it is like under the surface! The area we are looking at is about the size of a football field. The flames we were looking for are not obvious, but came out occasionally above the erupting site.
The last picture shows our group standing at the edge. Much of the edge from which these pictures were taken fell into the lake the next day...!
PS. Sometimes an astronomer can have fun tagging along with geologists! Dale was at the Univ. of Hawaii in Honolulu, where I was a grad student. He mostly studied moons of Jupiter and Saturn, but he had wide interests!