Press Release: Polarquest2018’s sailing vessel Nanuq arrives in Longyearbyen, Sptitzbergen

Longyearbyen, 1 August 2018, 18.30 (CEST). After crossing the Greenland Sea for 10 days and exploring the southernmost part of the Svalbard archipelago, Polarquest2018’s self-sustaining sailboat Nanuq has arrived in Longyearbyen, the capital of Spitzbergen, according to plan. The crossing conditions were “almost optimal, except for some fog and lack of wind on the approach to the South coast of Spitzbergen” – said Captain Peter Gallinelli, upon arrival.

Mike Struik on expedition with zodiac.

Time was different on the boat. No night, no day, no meal hours. Everything was at the rhythm of our shifts and all in U. T. (Universal Time),” said Safiria Buono (19) who carried out fifteen stations of microplastic sampling on behalf of the Marine Institute (ISMAR) of the Italian Research Council (CNR). The most important part for sampling was between Greenland and Jan Mayen, where two ocean currents meet, creating an accumulation of microplastics, also called “garbage patches”.

Ombretta Pinazza, CERN physicist for INFN Bologna, together with physics student Alberto Rolandi (20) of EPFL Lausanne, have been making sure that the PolarQuEEEst cosmic ray detector takes data correctly. This detector was built at CERN and installed on board Nanuq under the coordination of Centro Fermi of Rome. The researchers have already managed to send some data samples to their colleagues on land using the Iridium satellite phone. “At times, we had to try eight times until it worked!” said Alberto.

The skipper and his international crew of sailors, scientists and communicators will now take a short rest in Longyearbyen and a well-deserved hot shower (no such facilities exist on board) before casting off again at noon on Saturday 4 August to Ny Alesund. There they will take part in the 90th anniversary commemoration of the ITALIA Airship polar expedition at the Italian Research Station “Dirigibile ITALIA”, managed by CNR, on Sunday 5 August. Representatives from the families of the ITALIA Airship 1928 crew are flying to Longyearbyen on 4 August to take part in the commemoration.

Nanuq will finally cast off from Ny Alesund on Monday 6 August to circumnavigate the archipelago and reach, for the first time in 90 years, the ITALIA crash site. While continuing its research programme, the Nanuq crew will also attempt to locate the ITALIA airship wreck under the sea North-East of Nordauslandet. For their search, they will use a new 3D multi-beam sonar developed by the Norwegian company NORBIT Subsea.

Iceberg photographed from Nanuq.
Wild reindeer in the Svalbard.

Press conference – Saturday 4 August

On Saturday 4 August at 11:00 CEST (Central European Summer Time), Polarquest2018 will be hosting a press event at the North Pole Exploration Museum with Nanuq skipper Peter Gallinelli, representatives of the ITALIA Airship crew families Pino Biagi and Sergio Alessandrini, and scientists Luisa Ciffarelli from Centro Fermi, Cristina Battaglia from CNR and Annalisa Bonfiglio from CRS4. The press event will be moderated by Polarquest2018 project leader Paola Catapano. Interested journalists and members of the public can take part in person at the Museum or by joining the live on Polarquest2018’s Facebook page.

For press registration in Longyearbyen, interview requests and information about the press event:

Nanuq’s current location – follow along live.

Polarquest2018 is made possible thanks to the following partners and sponsors: Elysia Capital, the crowdfunding platform Global Giving, Loterie Romande, and Fondation Dudley Wright Geneva.

Research: Museo Storico e Centro e Ricerche Enrico Fermi, Rome, INFN, CERN, CNR, Université de Savoie, GREAL Università Europea di Roma, Società Geografica Italiana, and CRS4 Cagliari.

Technology partners: NORBIT Subsea, B&G,  Survitec, Drone Capture Systems, ALLIANZ, Advanced Tracking, HAMILTON Watches, Drift + Noise Polar Services, Fly-to-Discover, EWOL, Gréments Import, Weather Dock, and SPADE.

Food providers: Marramiero Vini D’Abruzzo, BARILLA pasta, Eli prosciutti Parma, Oleificio Andreassi Pescara, RODOLFI Pomodoro a Parma, and Caseificio Battistero Parma per il Parmigano Reggiano.

Thanks to: Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica Leonardo da Vinci of Milan, to the descendants of the airship crew ITALIA and to RAI Uno – La Vita In Diretta Estate for their valued collaboration, as well as the North Pole Exploration Museum, Longyearbyen.