Polarquest2018 is a research and exploration expedition on board sustainable and passive sailing vessel Nanuq, that took place this summer in the Arctic Ocean between Northern Iceland, Greenland, the Svalbard archipelago and continental Norway. On August 22, Nanuq successfully completed the circumnavigation of the Svalbard archipelago closing the loop in Isfjord, just outside Longyearbyen, where the Svalbard leg of the expedition had started on August 4, logging 1500 nautical miles 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, focussing on microplastics in the sea, industrial pollutants in the air, and cosmic rays from outer space. Moreover, using low-cost drones and citizen science sensors, Polarquest scientists were able to carry out expeditive, high-resolution mapping and thermal and near-infrared observations of remote and scarcely visited areas all around the Svalbard archipelago. Polarquest2018’s historical inspiration is the ITALIA Airship tragic polar expedition, carried out by polar pioneer and airship engineer Umberto Nobile exactly 90 years ago. 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 the first ever commemoration ceremony was celebrated in the open Arctic Ocean. Soon after, Polarquest experts deployed an innovative 3-D multibeam sonar 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 analysed by Norbit Subsea and the results will be made available by the end of October.
h17:30 Visit of the Photo exhibition
h18:00 Presentation by Peter Gallinelli, skipper and expedition leader and Paola Catapano, project leader