Arctic Explorers are Getting Some Help from Above

A duo of Belgian adventurers are receiving some guidance from the heavens during their 2,000 km (1,200 mile) trek across the Arctic Ocean. Okay, it’s nothing magical, they’re just received detailed observations from ESA’s Envisat Mission, which is providing readings on sea ice.

The explorers, Alan Hubert and Dixie Dansercoer, are collecting snow depth data which will help calibrate the upcoming CryoSat-2 mission. They’re used to dealing with the harsh and rapidly changing Arctic environment, but they were caught off guard when a portion of the ice in the Lincoln Sea broke up. Thanks to observations from Envisat, they were able to avoid the rapidly disintegrating ice pack, and steer to safer conditions further to the east.

Their Arctic Arc expedition is part of the International Polar Year 2007-2008. They started in March 1, 2007, and have already traveled 1,600 km (1,000 miles) taking snow depth measurements along the way. When CryoSat-2 finally launches in 2009, scientists will compare the satellite’s observations against these measurements, to better calibrate its data on snow levels.

Original Source: ESA News Release