2nd Attempt to Lift Robot Out of Volcano Succeeds

From Associated Press

The Dante II robot that spider-walked its way into a volcanic crater was lifted out by helicopter Saturday, more than a week after a misstep sent the 1,700-pound NASA explorer sprawling in the boulder-strewn landscape.

Scientists from Carnegie Mellon University took advantage of good weather to mount the rushed retrieval of the eight-legged robot, developed for NASA and brought to Alaska to test its ability to explore terrain similar to that encountered on other planets.

A Kenai Air Alaska helicopter lifted the robot from its rocky perch about 400 feet below the rim of the volcanic crater at Mt. Spurr and set it down on a runway several thousand feet lower on the mountain, said Terry Keith, scientist-in-charge at the Alaska Volcano Observatory here.

From the remote volcano, the robot was to be flown about 60 miles across Cook Inlet to Kenai, where the helicopter that lifted it is based.

Keith said one of her workers and another experienced rock climber from Anchorage climbed down into the crater and manually wrapped a sling around Dante and attached it to a line hanging down from the helicopter.

"It was a very easy slinging job," Keith said.

Dante got into trouble while climbing out of the crater after a week of walking and gathering scientific data deep inside the volcano, which erupted three times in 1992 after 39 years of dormancy.

While picking its way up from the crater floor, the $1.7-million robot tipped over Aug. 5 after getting mired in a 30-degree slope of mud created when sunny, warm weather melted snow cover that had made walking down into the crater easy for Dante.

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