we've been silent for quite some time and for reason: the last months, the whole team has been busy not just continuing with our relentless and successful communications. We ve been reaping the first results from our scientific projects on board Nanuq during the Polarquest2018 expedition! Here's an overview of the activities.
Our intern Valeria, Biology student at Milano Bicocca University concluded her work at the Marine Biology lab of CNR (one of Polarquest2018’s scientific partner) in Lerici, La Spezia (Italy) under the supervision of microplastic expert and lab director Stefano Aliani last September. The first results of the scientific analysis are summarized in an article Aliani, Valeria and myself wrote for a dedicated publication by Springer, Mare Plasticum, which we share with you exclusively, before the book publication, in the attachment. Please keep it for yourself and do not share until the book is published! In the meantime, data interpretation is being finalized for a more in depth specialized publication.
Polar Drones - AURORA (Accessible UAVs for Research and Observation in Remote Areas)
Two important scientific papers have been submitted for publications by our geographer on board, Dr. Gianluca Casagrande, of the Geographic Research and Application Laboratory (GREAL) of the European University of Rome, and in charge of observations and surveys during the expedition. The first two papers focus on Virgohamna, a historical site on the northern side of Danskøya (the Danes Island) approximately at coordinates 79°43’39”N, 10°53’58”E, in the straits separating the island from Amsterdamøya (Amsterdam Island), at the Northwestern extremity of the Arctic Svalbard archipelago. The two islands are depopulated to this day and rarely visited by ships and expeditions, mostly for tourism. The strait between them is up to 3 kilometers wide; the area has always been considered a safe one for ships in case of bad weather and for the establishment of advanced camps during polar expeditions. During Polarquest2018, NANUQ stopped in the bay, in front of the beach on the south-western edge of Virgohamna. The place is of special historical interest as it is associated with exploration endeavors which were to start, end or to have crucial moments there since 1896, when a Swedish ship called Virgo was visiting the Northwestern area of Svalbard in search for an appropriate location to establish a base, which they found in what was until then called Houcker Bay by trappers and whale hunters. From that moment on, the place would have been called “Virgo Bay”. The bay is also famous for hosting the Swedish rescuers base during the ITALIA airship wreck and that is where Umberto Nobile was flown by his Swedish rescuer Lundborg in 1928, before being transported to Kings Bay.
The stop-over of PolarQuest 2018 in the area had the primary purpose of conducting an expeditive survey, testing an innovative methodology based on the use of small drones for aerial imagery. The intended result was to map some known traces of expeditions which had used the place between the end of the 1800s and the beginning of 1900s. “Raw data” useful to study other geo-historical or archaeological phases, along with the general environmental status of the site, were also acquired. The papers resulting from this 3-D drone survey are specifically focused on the Swedish Andrée Polar Expedition of 1896-1897, probably the most famous attempt of reaching the North Pole which was ever carried out from Virgohamna.
The first paper is currently under the second referee stage for publication in the Official Bulletin of Società Geografica Italiana; the second is at the first referee stage for publicationin the "Geographica" University Press booklet series, and will be circulated also on platforms such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu.
The cosmic ray detector PolarquEEEst
First results from the data analysis were publish on the specialized journal Proceedings of Science. Here’s a short summary of results. Full paper downloadable on the Centro Fermi website: https://eee.centrofermi.it/research/pubblicazioni
Conclusions fromPellegrino C. et. al. (EEE Collaboration), First results from PolarquEEEst, PoS (ICRC 2019) 371.
During the summer 2018, the PolarQuest 2018 expedition on board sailboat Nanuq sailed from Iceland and circumnavigated the Svalbard archipelago reaching a latitude of 82_070, close to the crash point of the Italia airship and ended its voyage on September 4th in Tromsø (Norway) hosting several scientific programs. The PolarquEEEst experiment measured the cosmic rays flux using a specifically designed detector up to latitudes poorly studied. The experiment took place within the “Extreme Energy Events: Science inside Schools” project of the “Museo Storico e Centro Studi e Ricerche Enrico Fermi”. Three identical detectors were built by a team of high-school students and located at three different latitudes to simultaneously measure the cosmic radiation. The detectors operated almost continuously for 45 days, collecting about 100 million tracks each. Then, a measure campaign using the POLA-01 detector started, covering a wide range of European latitudes, from 35_ in the Italian island of Lampedusa to 52_ in Hannover, Germany. At the moment, three POLA detectors, POLA-01, POLA-03 and POLA-04 are taking data close to the scientific area of Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, for a long-term measure campaign. An analysis has been performed on the collected data as reported in the present work, and the results are in good agreement with the Lemaitre-Vallarta’s curves and the Compton’s.
The PolarquEEEst data were also the subject of a “Maturité” (swiss High School degree) scientific work by Tania Rosset, one of the students who assembled the detector at CERN in May 2018. See our dedicated piece of news for more details: http://www.polarquest2018.org/muon-detection-interview-with-tania/
COMMUNICATIONS …HASN ‘T STOPPED… as usual!
Here’s a brief summary of the main highlights.
- After a halt in Ostia during the Estate Romana at the plastic free Festival Plastica d’Amare https://plasticadamare.it/ , our photographic exhibition 82°07’ North is currently on display in Cagliari, Sardinia, at the Fondazione Sardegna, here’s the fb event: https://www.facebook.com/events/488463605038541/
- Our TV documentary, Polarquest, broadcast on Ushuaia TV France various times from Dec to March, won two more prizes! The sustainable tourism and ecologyprize at the Deauville Film Festival and the Maritime Film Festival, USA, (https://www.maritimefilmfestival.com/ ) Laurel.
- Polarquest2018 expedition members were invited t give public presentations of the Polarquest adventure in Cuneo (June, Paola and Mike), Erice and Marsala, Sicily (Gianluca, August), Gran Sasso Science Institute in L’Aquila (Paola, September)and Palermo (Roberto, October). Some of these events are featured in our news section on the website: http://www.polarquest2018.org/category/news/?orderby=date&order=desc
And more is coming up soon, with the projection of our documentary at CERN’s Globe of Science and Innovation on November 19:
We are deeply grateful for your generosity and support without which most of our achievements wouldn’t have been possible!
With our warmest thanks on behalf of the entire team!
Polarquest2018 project leader
a year ago I would not have imagined that even almost a year after completion of the Arctic expedition, the Polarquest2018 team would be still so busy following up on its results! this is a short report on the multitude of activities which took place since our latest report just last February, both on the scientific front and the communications'! Most of these activities are taking place thanks to your continued support and we can only be very grateful and delighted. Your sensitivity and awareness of the seriousness of plastic pollution on our planet are exemplary and if all world citizens were as aware and responsive as all of you are, our planet would already be a better one!
Exactly because of this awareness, the Polarquest2018 team has also decided to support two micro projects and I’d like to spend a few words on them, in case you hadn’t noticed them, before reporting on our core activities:
- BioStraw4Planet - This is a fantastic initiative aiming at creating a production line of biodegradable alternatives to plastic, starting from bamboo straws. This will be done via jobs' creation for disables in the island of Rodrigues, where one of the world’s garbage patches (wrongly known as “plastic islands”) floats in the heart of the Indian Ocean. Gabriella Silvestri, its creator, is an incredible lady: a PhD in chemistry, expert in polymer, she abandoned the comfort and luxury of her life as an international staff in a famous multinational to devote all her energy and expertise to this project. When she reached out to me after watching one of my TV interviews on Polarquest, I was infected with her passion and determination to work on solutions, so I decided to open a micro-project in our GlobalGiving space to support her initiative. Please donate to BioStraw4Planet!
- Microplastic in the Desert – Last March another exceptional and very young lady approached me with an irresistible proposal: meet Zoe Townsend, a young research fellow and graduate in Aerospace engineering who, while getting ready to take part in a Mars simulation camp in the Utah desert, proposed to take this opportunity and sample microplastic at the same time! That’s how, thanks to her, Polarquest carried out the very first first sampling campaign in the Utah desert at the Mars Desert Research Station. With great delight we opened the Microplastic in the Desert microproject in our Global Giving space to help her recover some of her travel expenses.
Thanks to your donations, we awarded an internship to another charming and competent young lady, Valeria, who just graduated in Biology at Milano Bicocca University and applied for an internship at the Lerici Marine Biology lab, which she needed to continue her studies in Marine Biology. Valeria started her internship in May at the Marine Biology lab of CNR (one of Polarquest2018’s scientific partner) in beautiful Lerici, La Spezia (Italy) under the supervision of Polarqiest’s microplastic expert and lab director Stefano Aliani Valeria. She analyses all our samples with a microscope, to separate microplastics from any contamination and biological material contained in the samples. She then measures fiber length and diameter of each sample with a micrometer and finally uses the lab’s FT-IR microscope to measure the polymeric composition of these floating particles. Polymer verification with reference spectra is fundamental to identify what is plastic and what is not and to draw scientific conclusions about the quantities of plastic present in our oceans. Moreover, each polymer type tells the story of the plastic object the sample comes from. Through the characterization of the chemical identity of each polymer, scientists can trace back the industrial product at the origin of the microplastic sample filtered by the mesh used by Nanuq in the Arctic Ocean and on the North Pole ice shelf itself! As well as provide detailed information on their abundance and geographical distribution. Geographical differences in sample composition are important to demonstrate heterogeneity in plastics distribution and the complex interplay between pollution sources, sinks and residence times of different polymers at sea. We will keep you updated as the work progresses.
COMMUNICATIONS …HASN ‘T STOPPED!
Here’s a brief summary of the main highlights.
- Our photographic exhibition 82°07’ North is currently on display at The European University of Rome, where three expedition members (Gianluca Casagrande, Alwin Courcy and myself) reported about the expedition and updated the students on its results on May 27
- A “clone” of the same exhibition was on show at TEDx in Pescara on May 18
- Polarquest2018 project leader presented the expedition, its results and great imagery at the Tearo Massimo in Cagliari to 400 school students during the Labboat initiative organized by CRS4
- Our TV documentary, Polarquest, broadcast on Ushuaia TV France various times from Dec to March, won the Sustainability Award at the Terres Documentary Film Festival in Spain and is nominated for the Deauville Film Festival (results on June 15!!! Keep fingers crossed!)
- Last but not least, a Polarquest2018 delegation was received by HH Pope Francis together with a delegation of descendants of the Airship ITALIA crew in Rome, as a recognition of our commemoration of the Airship crew lost after the crash in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, at 81°07’ N, 25°25’ E (the Airship first SOS exact geographical coordinates, which Polarquest2018 were the first to reach on board sailboat Nanuq on Aug. 13, 2018).
For more of the above, see our news' space :http://www.polarquest2018.org/category/news/?orderby=date&order=desc
We are deeply grateful for your support, trust and help without which most pf the above achievements wouldn’t have been possible for the Polarquest team2018! We count on you to close our mission this year, only 2000 USD to go for Polarquest, more donations needed for our Microprojects BioStraw4Planet and Microplastic in the Desert!
With our warmest thanks!
Since the successful conclusion of the expedition, the Polarquest2018 team has been busy organizing dissemination events in Switzerland and Italy, taking part in TV shows and working on TV documentaries, while our team of scientists has been analyzing the data from the scientific campaign in the Arctic. All these activities are featured on our latest report to GG donors last November, our website www.polarquest2018.org and related social media.
In the current report we have the pleasure of providing you with advance information about the scientific results of the campaigns carried out on board Nanuq during the Polarquest2018 expedition in the high arctic, up to the edge of the North Pole iceshelf, at the record latitude of 82°07'N.
- MEASURING COSMIC RAY SHOWERS NEAR THE NORTH POLE
The Polarquest2018 mission started on the 22nd of July 2018 from Isafjordur (Iceland) and ended on the 4th of September in Tromsø (Norway), after sailing for about 3500 NM. The POLA-01 cosmic ray detector, on board Nanuq, took data almost continuously, integrating at the end about 861 hours of data with a global efficiency of about 91%, with small breaks due to various reasons (main power down, difficult weather conditions, detector reset, etc.). POLA-02 and POLA-03 were functioning during the whole period, with essentially 100% efficiency. In total, more than 110000000 tracks per detector were collected. Data from POLA-02 and POLA-03 could be verified and analyzed online by the students in Nesodden and Bra. This was not possible with POLA-01 because an Internet connection was not available onboard. Instead, all data was regularly reconstructed and stored on Nanuq, checked by the scientist on board, and a small set of trending information was sent daily using a satellite phone to allow a more precise verification by the experts. Overall, the PolarquEEEst experiment successfully collected data on cosmic rays between 66° and 82° N latitudes, a region with, up to now, very few measurements AND UNEXPLORED ABOVE 79° LATITUDE N. The detector performed excellently, despite the tight constraints imposed by its integration inside a sailing-boat. The choice of involving high school students in this experience received great enthusiasm and interest and proved, once more, the success of the idea to combine a physics experiment with a science dissemination program, as done for the first time by the EEE project of Centro Fermi. All the data is presently stored at INFN-CNAF computer centre and is available also for all students in the standard EEE data repository, via web access.
READ THE FULL REPORT AND FIRST SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATION HERE:
Also attached CERN COURIER Article on these results.
- 3 D MAPPING OF UNCHARTED TERRITORIES ABOVE 80°N - AURORA PROJECT
The project (whose name stands for Accessible UAVs for Research and Observation in Remote Areas) consisted of a proof-of-concept of observations and geographical documentation in Arctic environments, conducted by low-cost drones, sensors and consumer-level software. Tests were carried out in different places, where specific survey and observation profiles could be tested. These spanned from qualitative observation and aerophotogrammetry, expeditive cartography, observations of landscapes in the thermal and near infrared. Attention was also paid to verifying the effectiveness of the equipment in documenting and story-telling Arctic environments. This was considered to be relevant in a region like Svalbard, currently in transition from being an anaecumenic context into being a space increasingly subject to settlement, usage and tourism. among the locations mapped:
- EXPEDITIVE AEROPHOTOGRAMMETRIC SURVEY OF VIRGOHAMNA, DANES ISLAND (DANSKØYA)
The place was the departure site for Andrée’s (1897) and Wellman’s (1906, 1907 and 1909) polar expeditions. Formerly a popular landmark for tourism, Virgohamna is now heavily protected and access to it is regulated. An expeditive aerial reconnaissance about the current state of the site was carried out by launching two drones from NANUQ.
- KAPP RUBIN AND NORD-KAPP - IDENTIFICATION ATTEMPT OF HISTORICAL CAIRNS
A series of drone flights was performed at both Kapp Rubin and Nord-Kapp in the attempt of spotting historical
“cairns” (small stacks of stones) associated to the Albertini expeditions (1928-1929) in both areas. Two cairns were
video-recorded on the top of Nord-Kapp. In the area between Nord-Kapp, Kapp Rubin and Kapp Platten, the
research group carried out extensive surveys by on-foot search, observation of the shores from a dinghy, and by
aerial view by drones.
- SURVEY OF ALPINI ISLAND (ALPINIØYA)
The “Isola degli Alpini” was officially discovered in summer 1928 by Italian Royal Army officer Gennaro Sora, of the Alpine Corps. He and fellow Arctic explorer Sief van Dongen were travelling through northern Svalbard in search for the survivors of airship ITALIA. Alpiniøya is a small rock formation. Although it is completely depopulated and visited very rarely, the island appeared cluttered with plastic debris and waste. The latter was present in considerable quantity and, for the most part,
it could be interpreted as deriving from fishing activities. This form of pollution has been observed by PolarQuest 2018 in a large majority of the land area visited during the expedition north and east of Svalbard.
See full report in the attached FULL EXPEDITION REPORT
- MICROPLASTIC AND PLASTIC SURVEY UP TO THE EDGE PF THE NORTH POLE
A floating microplastic sampling programme was carried out, both during the first leg of NANUQ’s voyage (Iceland-Greenland-Svalbard), and during the second (circumnavigation of Svalbard). The project was directed by the Institute of Marine Sciences of the CNR (ISMAR) under the supervision of Dr. Stefano Aliani. The observations on board of NANUQ were carried out by
two young operators, environmental activist Safiria Buono (age 19, Italy) and co-skipper Mathilde Gallinelli Gonzalez (age 22, Switzerland). MANTANET towed at low speed by NANUQ during a sampling operation. A sufficiently fine net can effectively
capture microplastic fragments. The samples were preserved on board (no fridge needed, thanks to temperature close to 0°C at all times) and transferred for laboratory analysis to allow for the study of the distribution and characteristics of this form of pollution. A graduate student has been identified to contribute to the samples analysis in the lab as of April as her Master's thesis subject. The following is the list of GPS coordinates where the sampling have been carred out:
77°38.760'N 10° 26.288'E
In the meantime, both the project leader and the scientific expert have taken part in TV shows to spread information about the plastic pollution in the world oceans and encourage everyone to stop single use plastic NOW without waiting for official regulations. See extracts from the TV shows in the Polarquest2018 website/media gallery, at the following links:
More on microplastics in a couple of months and thanks for your faithful support!
On behalf of the Polarquest2018 team
Sceince Journalist at CERN and Polarquest2018 project leader
As you might remember from our latest report sent on Aug 28, Polarquest2018 successfully completed the circumnavigation of the Svalbard archipelago on board sailboat Nanuq (60ft) on August 22, closing the loop in Isfjord, just outside Longyearbyen, where the Svalbard leg of the expedition had started on August 4, logging 1500 nautical miles (3500 since the expedition start in Iceland on July 22) and reaching the outer boundary of the ice shelf at 82°07' North at 16h50 UTC on August 13. In addition to its nautical feats, the expedition has scored remarkable achievements in all the scientific projects on board, focusing on microplastics in the sea, industrial pollutants in the air, and cosmic rays from outer space.
Since the successful conclusion of the expedition, we have been busy organizing a series of dissemination events in Switzerland and Italy and working on two TV documentaries, while our team of scientists is analyzing the data from the scientific campaign in the Arctic.Here’s a report summarizing these activities and giving information on what’s next.
EVENTS - Polarquest2018 public events aiming at engaging people in our extraordinary expedition and describing our scientific accomplishments.
1- On Sept. 6, project leader Paola Catapano and chief cosmic ray scientist prof. Luisa Cifarelli, President of of Centro Fermi presented Polarquest2018 in Rimini to 150 high school students selected to take part in the Italian Physics Olympics team.
2- On September 26, prof. Luisa Cifarelli was invited to present the first results from the PolarquEEEst cosmic detector, which took data throughout the expedition on board sailboat Nanuq, within the prestigious series of CERN colloquia (reserved to top scientists and Nobel Laureates) in CERN’s Main Auditorium, entitled Measuring Cosmic Ray Showers up to the North Pole.
3- On Sept. 30th, project leader Paola Catapano was invited speaker at prestigious Wired Netfest in Florence to report about the expedition and the microplastic sampling in particular. See the recording of her presentation on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BNLBNPParibas/videos/689486851432841/
4- On October 1, the Polarquest sailing adventure was presented to the CERN Yachcting Club in Geneva by Peter Gallinelli, skipper, and Paola Catapano. The presentation focused on the circumnavigation of the Svalbard archipelago, the microplastics research and the exploration of yet uncharted shores and islands accomplished by the team on board Nanuq using commercial drones and thanks to the unprecedent lack of ice in the area. Other expedition members who were present answered the numerous questions from the audience.
5- On Nov. 1the students from College Voltaire in Geneva, who assembled the PolarQuEEEst detector that travelled aboard Nanuq took part in the seventh edition of the cross-border symposium “Mon TPE/TM en 15 minutes” (“My project in 15 minutes”) at CERN. The students gave a presentation on their work with Polarquest, describing the overall scientific aims of the PolarquEEEst detector, how they approached its construction, and gave a summary of the successes of the expedition.
6- On Nov 2 project leader Paola Catapano and chief scientist Luisa Cifarelli presented the expedition and its preliminary scientific results at the Genova Science Festival in front of more than 500 people
7- On Nov. 10 the voyage of Airship ITALIA was commemorated at the event “Ritorno al Polo Nord” in the Italian Navy Museum in La Spezia (Italy). The event featured talks by Italian and international researchers and historians, including Polarquest’s project leader Paola Catapano and geographer Gianluca Casagrande.
PHOTO EXHIBITION - “82°07 North”, an exhibition of photographs taken during the Polarquest2018 expedition, is now travelling since its inauguration at CERN on September 26. It features 33 beautiful photos conveying the spectacular Arctic environment all along Nanuq’s circumnavigation of the Svalbard archipelago, till the edge of the polar ice shelf.After a 10-day period at CERN in the Main Building, it has been on show at:
- Collège Voltaire in Geneva (Oct. 15 – 23)
- Genova Science Festival (Oct. 25 - Nov. 4)
- The Italian Navy Museum in La Spezia (Nov. 9 -16)
Next destination: the Italian Airforce Museum and Umberto Nobile documentation Centre in Vigna di Valle (Rome) as of Nov. 27.
FORTHCOMING EVENTS - Two important events are coming up, where the Polarquest scientists and expedition leader will present to the press, academia, schools and partners the preliminary scientific results of the expedition:
on November 27 november in Rome at the headquarters ofSocietà Geografica Italiana, with
- Gianluca Casagrande, on the geograhical observation tecniques and results obtained ;
- Peter Gallinelli, skipper ed expedition leader, on the sailing and exploration miliestones;
- Luisa Cifarelli, on the comsic rays observation
- Stefano Aliani, marine biologist and oceanographer of CNR-ISMAR di Lerici, on the methodology and sampling plan of the microplastic project PolarQuest 2018;
- Aleksandra Kruss, oceanographer (SMAR-CNR Venezia and NORBIT Subsea), on the research of the potential wreckage of the ITALIA airship and acustic imaging of the sea bottom in the Artcic
- On November 28 In Museo Storico dell’Aeronautica Militare in Vigna di Valle (Bracciano Lake), Historical Workshop Storico “90 years after Umberto Nobile’s Polar Expedition”, in collaboration with CNR, with speeches by Paola Catapano, Mike Struik, Gianluca Casagrande and the descendants of the Airship Italia crew.
PRESS COVERAGE -The press coverage has been extensive since the very start of the project, before during and after the expedition with press articles in prestigious dailies and magazines and live TV programmes. You can take a look at our media page: http://www.polarquest2018.org/media/
WHAT’S NEXT? MICROPLASTC SAMPLES ANALYSIS AND TV DOCUMENTARIES
Thanks to your support and to the dedication of its members, the Polarquest2018 team has managed to accomplish a lot in such a short time after the expedition, in spite of having to return to their regular jobs. Two major objectives arenow coming up:
As special partners in this endeavour, you can enjoy a private preview of a video demo at the following link, using password Nanuq:
(not to be shared please!)
CALL FOR ACTION!!! We are taking the great opportunity of Giving Tuesdayto ask you to support us and help us carry out the two remaining important objectives of Polarquest2018 on this special day. Your donation will be enhanced by the special campaign GlobalGiving has launched for GIVING TUESDAY. The Polarquest2018 team will be delighted to offer donors giving 100 USD and above a selection of our best picturesfrom this fantastic expedition in high resolution. Donors giving 1000 USD or more will benefit from special printsand will be thanked in the credits of our documentary(unless they wished to remain discreet).
Thank you for your continued support ad happy Giving Tuesday!
And follow us on Twitter/facebook @polarquest2018
Expedition achievements and highlights
On 22 August 2018, 21:30 local time Polarquest2018’s sailboat Nanuq has successfully completed the circumnavigation of the Svalbard archipelago closing the loop in Isfjord, just outside Longyearbyen, where the Svalbard leg of the expedition started on August 4, logging 1500 nautical miles and reaching the outer boundary of the ice shelf at 82°07 N at 16h50 UTC on August 13.
The sailing conditions were “exceptionally favorable, with absolutely no ice until very high latitude and only one gale with gusts up to 50 knots” – said Captain Peter Gallinelli, upon arrival. “More than weather and ice, the real challenge was a few very poorly or completely uncharted areas, especially on the East coast of the Nordaustlandet island, where we were often surprised by unmarked shoals and sailed inside completely uncharted fjords”. In addition to its nautical feats, the expedition has scored remarkable achievements in all the scientific projects on board.
A total of 30 microplastic sampling stations were carried out, with one at the record latitude of 82°07 N, right on the edge of the ice, by 19-year-old microplastic operator Safiria Buono. The samples will be analyzed by the Marine Institute (ISMAR) of CNR (National Research Council of Italy), but “one of the conclusions which can already be drawn from a simple visual check is that, even at these high latitudes, the quantity of macro plastic loitering the most remote and wildest beaches of our planet is astonishing” she says. “A piece of plastic was caught in the Mantanet even at 82°N!”. Frédéric Gillet, one of the scientists supporting the Mantanet sampling, also placed a PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) sensor 20 km south of Ny Ålesund, to measure their presence in areas distant from urbanized regions and understand the transfer and accumulation mechanisms of this powerful industrial pollutant, banned since the 1970’s in many countries, in the oceans and in the atmosphere. He will collect the sensor in 2020 for analysis by the University of Savoy, France.
The high latitude reached by Nanuq marks a record also for the PolarQuEEEst cosmic ray detector, assembled at CERN with the participation of school students and installed on board by physicists from Centro FERMI of Rome and INFN (The Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics). “We have a unique dataset of the cosmic ray flow at the highest latitudes ever reached at sea level”, says Ombretta Pinazza, physicist (INFN Bologna), “and we are now very excited to look for correlations with the two other identical detectors which are taking data in continental Norway and Italy. The area covered exceeds 5000 km2 and is the most effective to confirm the existence of cosmic showers generated by high energy radiation colliding with our atmosphere (EEE programme, Centro Fermi)”. In addition to contributing to understanding the origin of high energy cosmic rays, these correlations will also enable scientists to study how cosmic rays influence cloud formation and the correlation of Supernovae rate with climatic periods over 500 million years, thus contributing to a better understanding of climate change.
The objectives of the AURORA project conducted on board Nanuq by prof. Gianluca Casagrande of the European University of Rome and the Italian Geographical Society have been fully achieved. “Using our low-cost drones and citizen science sensors, we were able to carry out expeditive, high-resolution mapping and thermal and near-infrared observations of remote and scarcely visited areas all around the archipelago” says Casagrande. “Our tools proved effective both for scientific data acquisition and for communicating Arctic environments.” One of the surveys had a special symbolic value, as it produced, for the first time, a detailed 3-D rendering of Alpiniøya, the island discovered by Italian officer Gennaro Sora, who was in the area on his way to rescuing the survivors of the ITALIA airship crash in 1928.
Umberto Nobile’s polar expedition – Polarquest2018’s historical inspiration – was of course not neglected. On August 13, the area from where the first SOS message was radioed by ITALIA crew member Giuseppe Biagi from the Red Tent (81°14 Nm 25°25 E) was reached by Nanuq and a short ceremony was celebrated in the open Arctic Ocean by captain Peter Gallinelli, Polarquest2018 project leader Paola Catapano and geographer Gianluca Casagrande. Soon after, technical coordinator Mike Struik deployed an innovative 3-D multibeam sonar of NORBIT Subsea, for the search of any potential metallic wreck of the lost Airship, following the route considered to be one of the most likely search paths, based on Umberto Nobile’s indications after the crash. This is the first documented targeted attempt at locating the wreck of airship ITALIA in 90 years. The data collected with the beamer will be analyzed by Norbit Subsea and the results will be made available by the end of September. “It will be really exciting to see the data from the sonar, not just for the airship but because that area of the Arctic Ocean has never been sounded before and we will get precious information on its bathymetry” says Morten Stendhal, director of Norbit Subsea in Trondheim. “I still can’t believe that our POLARQUEST2018 has been so successful on 100% of such a varied interdisciplinary programme with zero margins and limited resources”, says project leader Paola Catapano. “Amazingly, everything worked at the first attempt.”
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