01/23/2012 03:49 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2012

Fukushima Daiichi Video: Footage Shows Inside Damaged Reactor

Researchers inserted a tiny endoscopic camera inside one of Japan's tsunami-stricken reactors on Wednesday, hoping to assess the conditions of the plant and plan repairs.

The tiny camera is an industrial version of cameras used by doctors, and it has provided the first images from inside Fukushima Daiichi's No. 2 reactor. Fukushima suffered a meltdown in the wake of a devastating tsunami nearly a year ago. Officials have said it could take up to 40 years to fully decommission the plant.

The images show very little but steam and rusty metals. The Associated Press explains that results of the operation were mixed. The images failed to show the reactor's melted fuel or its cooling water, but did show that temperatures inside the reactor are stable. "It's a first step," said Junichi Matsumoto, spokesman for the plant's operator. "But we could not spot any signs of fuel, unfortunately."

"The amount of water appears to be less than what has been estimated up to now," Matsumoto told AFP.

NPR notes that the amount of water in the reactors is of crucial importance, "because that is what's cooling the reactors and will eventually get them to a stable level."

Watch the footage in the video above.