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GoPro Camera Found After Two Years Shows Breathtaking Footage of Grand Canyon From 'Edge of Space'

The Grand Canyon is truly a sight to behold. It's 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep in parts.

"The Canyon’s mile-high walls display a largely undisturbed cross section of the Earth’s crust extending back some 2 billion years," says the National Park Service. That fact really brings to mind the expression, "man, if these walls could talk ..."

Thanks to geologists and other scientists who have extensively studied this beautiful area, public opinion of the Grand Canyon region changed dramatically from that of "a worthless locale" to "the most sublime of earthly spectacles," says the park service. And "after nearly 150 years, geologists are still not finished studying the Grand Canyon."

In June 2013, a group of students sent a GoPro camera attached to a balloon "to the edge of space" (the stratosphere) over the Grand Canyon. The video of that effort was just published last week, and the footage is pretty breathtaking. So, why did it take two years for the footage to be posted? One of the students explains on Reddit how the camera got lost, despite the group's planning.

The group planned to use GPS to track the camera once it fell to the desert floor. They programmed a cell phone attached to the camera to send a text message once it had a signal as it was returning back to Earth. “The problem was that the coverage map we were relying on (looking at you, AT&T) was not accurate, so the phone never got signal as it came back to Earth, and we never heard from it,” explained the student.

Ironically then, the footage ended up being retrieved two years later when "a woman who works at AT&T was on a hike one day and spotted our phone in the barren desert," said the student. "She brings it to an AT&T store, and they identify my friend’s SIM card. We got the footage and data a few weeks later!”

Here is the footage from that GoPro camera:

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.