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TREX Day 4: Another Day in Hawaii

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TREX Day 4: Another Day in Hawaii

By Joey Noszek ’20

Within a five-minute walking distance from our house, there is a cliff that provides a view of Halemaumau Crater. I had seen it already during the day. Watching steam rise from the crater is quite interesting. However, the real beauty is found beneath the dark when red and molten lava leaves its mark. Last night, Ju, Chang, James, and I went to the cliff. I could not directly see any lava from my viewpoint, but the steam took on a striking, fiery hue. Staring at the glowing smoke is an awe-inducing experience. When I looked up, I was able to see more stars than I have ever seen in my life. I tried to make out constellations, but there were too many stars for me to notice any patterns beyond a scrambled mass of lights. This was wonderful.

The stars from the Halemaumau Crater. Photo credit: James Pruegsanusak

This morning, it was time to get back to work. Despite being here for a few days, we had not yet fully unpacked. Today, we unpacked the soil-testing equipment. Afterward, we brought our attention to our drone. The drone already has two cameras, one for visible light and one to calculate NDVI, a measurement of agricultural health, based on near red and near infrared light. Furthermore, we want to attach a FLIR camera. We spent a good chunk of time examining the drone to determine how to mount the new camera. We determined that and acquired the supplies, but we have not built it as of now. I messed around with the FLIR UAS app to determine how to get the camera to take pictures while flying; I was successful to that end.

In the evening, it was time for our informal talk. We met with a tour group of MIT alumni to tell them about our projects. They did ask some rather tough questions, but we were able to answer them sufficiently. Notably, one person asked about a specific type of mass spectrometry of which I had never heard. Fortunately, Ju had worked with it before and knew how to answer.

As you may know, there is a government shutdown. By the time you read this, it may be over, but now there is much uncertainty. We are currently staying at Kilauea Military Camp within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. We are allowed to stay at the camp and we are allowed to enter and leave the park. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to go anywhere else within the park. If the shutdown does not end, we will be kicked out of the park Monday at 11:00 AM. The professors have already arranged a place for us to stay. Regardless, I hope things go well in Washington as this park is utterly beautiful and I would like to see it more.


Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.