Heated air from the Mt Erebus volcano forms elegant ice caverns. NASA volcano expert Rosaly Lopes, left, and space artist Michael Carroll studied the region on their recent trip to Antarctica.

 (Courtesy Even Miller) 

Getting to the summit of Mt. Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica, is not an easy feat. Just ask Littleton space artist Michael Carroll.

Carroll says it took an airplane and two helicopter rides to reach his final destination.

Bizarre ice pillars form around volcanic vents on Antarctica’s Mt Erebus. Michael Carroll (left) and Rosaly Lopes explored these formations as analogs to some cryovolcanic sites on the moons of the outer solar system.

 (Courtesy Robin Carroccia, Michael Carroll, Rosaly Lopes and NSF)

Through the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists & Writers Program, he and a friend traveled to the summit to conduct research for a new book about volcanoes in space. The artist, whose work has appeared in magazines such as TIME, Scientific American and National Geographic, says the exotic and foreign environment of Antarctica gives an idea of what conditions might be like on another planet.

Carroll spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.