British Explorers Go on a Mission in Antarctica

British Explorers Go on a Mission in Antarctica

The team have arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile and are getting ready to travel to Lake Ellsworth in the heart of Antarctica.

After 16 years of planning the countdown is on for one of the most ambitious scientific missions in Antarctica. Twelve British scientists, engineers and support staff are heading into the interior of this frozen continent to collect samples of water and sediments from an ancient lake buried beneath 3km of ice. Their quest is to reveal vital secrets about the Earth’s past climate and discover life forms that may that live in subglacial Lake Ellsworth on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Chris Hill the project leader has sent back this report:

“The cargo is moving well. The first flight of the season delivered over 5 tonnes of our equipment onto the ice. This was followed on Saturday (3rd Nov) with the second flight, delivering over 10 tonnes of our cargo and two of the team members – Andy Webb (BAS) and Ed Waugh (NOC). Andy and Ed will spend approximately two weeks at Union Glacier preparing the equipment for the tractor traverse and filling the bulk fuel bladders with approximately 120 barrels of aviation fuel to run the hot water boiler for drilling.”

For the past three years a team of engineers from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) have pushed the boundaries of polar technology to design and build a state-of-the-art titanium water-sampling probe and a bespoke sediment corer capable of being lowered down a three kilometre borehole in the ice made by a custom-built hot-water drill. To add to the challenge every piece of technology has to be sterilised to space industry standards to ensure this unexplored lake remains pristine.


Press Release, November 08, 2012

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