The girl who wanted to see inside a volcano — and NASA did her part

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Stefanie Carlson got a cool question for lunch from a young student: “Can you show me inside of a volcano?”

It was something the young woman had been obsessing over for months, Carlson told a group of engineers and scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., on Tuesday. And it ended up being one of the most powerful pieces of scientific equipment the agency has ever built.

“She was going through the volcano like a lava geyser,” Carlson recalled. “She was doing her thing.”

This week, the girl got to have her volcano dream come true, albeit with one major drawback: She wasn’t able to reach the vent, in California’s East Mojave Desert.

The volcano didn’t fit through a door in Carlson’s machine. Instead, the scientists in her new lab designed a camera that allowed scientists to show her from the inside of the volcano, directly through light.

To the outside world, Carlson showed off the newly installed equipment to the audience, showing off monitors that allowed the viewer to see lava flow as if they were standing on the top of the volcano.

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