Want to send an email to Hitler for advice on the next election? Need to check Satan’s website for his world tour schedule? Looking for videos of hell freezing over (or at least cooling down) as the Chicago Cubs advance to the World Series? Soon you’ll be able to do all those and more because the Mouth of Hell ™ is officially getting Internet access.
OK, you probably figured out we’re not talking about an actual gateway to hell but the famous hot and heavily active Masaya volcano in Nicaragua. It’s in a national park just 20 km (12.4 miles) from Managua, the Nicaraguan capital, meaning it’s just 20 km from dumping flaming ash and sulfuric gases on 1.3 million people. It has regularly erupted since at least pre-Columbian times, with the last one in 2008 sending ash 6.1 km (3.8miles) into the air. Needless to say, it bears watching.
Unfortunately, that’s been difficult to do. Now, a team (with the breakfast cereal-sounding name Team Qwake) of riggers, engineers and a former astronaut (Scott Parazynski) led by famed “volcano diver” Sam Cossman will install 80 wifi sensors up to 355 meters (0.2 miles) deep inside the active crater. As Cossman describes it:
The goal is essentially to install all these sensors and create the most effective early warning system in the world that would ultimately serve as a proof of concept for implementing something similar to communities around the world who are exposed to similar risks.
The data collected will be stored and maintained by General Electric in an open-source database called Predix where anyone from volcanologists to interested volcano fanatics to local residents to Mouth of Hell email scammers can access it.
What will this “volcano diver” actually do? A back 2 1/2 somersaults in the pike position into molten lava? (I’ve been watching too much Olympic coverage). Starting this week, Cossman will wear a specially-designed aluminized suit to withstand the 1,000 F heat of the lava lake as he rappels 1200 feet down into the volcano and installs the equipment.
If all goes well, the rest of us can be part of the worldwide Mouth of Hell Internet watching team … the only job on Team Qwake we’re actually qualified for.