Abstract: 2008 NSS Convention- US Exploration Sessions

NASA Spaceward Bound –Caving for NASA from a Hot Air Balloon or
Thermographic Anomalies of Cave or Lava Tube Entrances from a Raised

Jim Thompson
MMV Grotto
NSS 13154 RL
The Explorers Club FN 05

1110 Bluffs Circle
Dunedin, FL 34698
727 812 8562

Thermography of cave and lava tube openings is in its infancy. NASA and cavers have come together in the study utilizing infrared thermograms to locate caves and lava tubes.

Research to determine which conditions and times are the best for subterranean entrance detection by use of infrared thermography and other detection methods is ongoing.

A comparison of timed thermographic images in the infrared band of cave and lava tube entrances for NASA’s Spaceward Bound program have resulted in answers, as well as more questions, concerning this state of the art method of locating cave and lava tubes on Earth and possibly other planets.

Timed thermographic images of Cavernas de Quitor and other caves in the Atacama Desert, Chile caves are compared with Mojave Desert Lava tubes; Pisgah and Cima, as part of an ongoing NASA project to develop protocols to locate caves and lava tubes by their thermographic images.

Research methods include analysis of thermographic images taken every ten minutes over a twenty-four hour period of the Cima lava fields in the Mojave Desert of California.

By utilizing a hot air balloon as an airborne platform a study is being conducted to determine the best times and heights to obtain signatures of cave and lava tube openings.

A number of factors are entered in and examined: Time of day, ambient temperature, height, dew point, distance, specific humidity, platform, as well as wind velocity and atmospheric gases.

More NASA research is currently underway and cavers are starting to use building inspection infrared cameras in local areas to try to locate caves on their own.


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