Nasa scientists landed for the first time on one of the world's newest islands and discovered that the three-year-old landmass is now covered with sticky, mysterious mud, vegetation and birdlife.
The volcanic island sprang into the ocean around Tonga three years ago and was one of only three new islands that have emerged in the last 150 years and have survived for more than a few months.
Dan Slayback of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Wanted To Visit The Remote Place Because Scientists Are Unaware Of How And Why New Isles Are Emerging. A team from NASA visited in October ̵
The island broke out in early 2015 on the edge of an underwater caldera and remained unnamed. however, is sometimes referred to as "Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai" – the names of neighboring islands.
Slayback and his team landed on a beach that looked like a black sand beach, but actually made up of pea-sized gravel that made walking painful.
It was discovered that the vegetation took root – the seeds were probably deposited by birds above the head – and a barn owl has begun to settle on the young island nesting of sooty terns.
A bright, sticky, clay-like mud "amazes" Slayback and his team, which is exactly what it is and where it comes from.
"In satellite imagery you can see this bright material," he said. "It's mud, that bright mud. It is very sticky. Although we did see it, we did not really know what it was, and I'm still a bit baffled where it came from. Because it is not ashes. "
Rock samples were collected for mineral analysis, and a high-precision GPS unit and aerial drone were used to estimate the altitude of the island and study the uninhabited new land.
" It was really amazing I realized how valuable it was to be present in person, "said Slayback.
"It really makes you realize what's going on with the landscape"
A high-resolution 3D map Now you have to get off the island, and Slayback and his team want to return for further study next year.
According to initial estimates, the island can survive up to 30 years before succumbing to the pressure of the ocean.