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Tech

Catch a falling star

A team of scientists has begun looking for a giant meteorite that landed in Greenland last December. You can follow their progress as they update their diary from the impact zone.

Expedition ended

August 17, 1998

jan flag

From DR Online

The three-week search for the giant meteorite in southwestern Greenland ended yesterday as The Tycho-Brahe-Expedition ran out of helicopter-time.

After trying several times to find a hole in the dense fog covering the southwestern edge of the inlandice, Captain Lars Erik Eriksson of the Greenlandair Bell 212 rotorcraft had to abort and return to the heliport of Paamiut. Expedition leader Jan Almquist had hoped to use his remaining helicopter resources to once again go over the northernmost part of the drop zone designated last Thursday by U.S. Department of Defense experts and Dr. Ceplecha of Prague. This area, a wild borderzone of inland ice and mountains, has also been claimed as the drop zone by Hans Henrik Berthelsen, the expedition pathfinder and a native of the region.

As it turned out, Almquist had to call off the search, one day ahead of schedule, as a severe storm was coming down the ice, threatening to cut off the return to Copenhagen of the Danish expedtion members.

So as befits real polar travelers, good-byes were short and unsentimental, as the Danes took off south for Nasarsuaq to catch the Greenlandair flight for Denmark, leaving the Greenlanders to go north to Nuuk, capital of Greenland.

Base camp deserted

August 16, 1998

Owing to a severe low pressure system coming in from the across the Davis Strait, it was decided yesterday that the expedition will leave the base camp on Nunatak "M" and conduct its last day of activities out of the heliport of Paamiut.

Expedition leader Jan Almquist would not risk being caught in bad weather up on the ice, as demobilisation of the expedition is due on Monday, requiring a whole day of uninterrupted helicopter time.

So the base camp at Nunatak "M," home of the meteorite expedition for the last nine days, was broken down yesterday, leaving only a cairn with the Tycho-Brahe-Expedition flag flying. As is the custom, ample supplies of food, fuel and matches were left inside the cairn, in case some other polar traveler might visit this beautiful and fornlorn place. Otherwise, everything was flown out, refuse included, leaving "M" as pristine as it was when the expedition arrived. On more thing was left, though -- the camp toilet, an installation of five-star comfort, built out of black flagstone and adorned with a lacquered pine-tree seat. It was supplied with toilet paper and secured with a big rock, ready for future use.

Search moves north in final stage of expedition

August 15, 1998

heli

Unperturbed by the insecurity about the red meteorite particles and academic turbulence in Copenhagen, expedition leader Jan Almquist and a crew of three just left for a helicopter search of the extreme northern part of the new search area, designated Thursday by experts from U.S. Department of Defense and Dr. Ceplecha of Prague.

Said Almquist: "We have no new instructions from Copenhagen," before he took off from base camp to search for fragments at least the size of "golf- or tennis balls," as steering committee member Vagn Buchwald put it, when the expedition departed from Copenhagen three weeks ago.

Contrary to this, steering-committee member Torben Risbo of Copenhagen University yesterday published a paper stating that the chances of finding bigger fragments of the meteorite are minimal, as the bolide exploded into dust at entry.

Today's search will bring the expedition to an area which has long been claimed as the impact zone by expedition member Hans Henrik Berthelsen. A native of the nearby village of Qeqertarsuatsiaat, Berthelsen has formed his view after long discussions with his fellow villagers, based upon the direction of the boom and the storm-force gusts of wind following the passing of the fireball.

Red Algae mistaken for meteorite dust

August 14, 1998

Geologist Hans Henrik Olsen just returned to base camp after collecting 5 samples of snow, known to contain the red algae which are suspected to have been mistaken for glassy, red meteorite particles.

After filtering and examination in the base camp microscope (30 times magnification), it is clear that the red algae bear a striking resemblance to what has earlier been reported as meteorite dust.

This voids many of the reports of snow samples sent earlier and confirms the skepticism expressed by expedition astronomer Lars Christensen yesterday. Any analysis of the snow samples will thus have to wait until a task-force of scientists has been assembled in Copenhagen, and the expedition will not have the opportunity to profit from them.

Validity of 'meteorite' particles questioned

August 14, 1998

mount

The scientific steering-committee behind the meteorite expedition has so far been unable to provide the facilities for in-depth analysis of snow samples, shipped from the search area to Copenhagen. This has left the expedition in doubt as to exactly what to look for. So far, the instructions from Copenhagen have been focused on the presence of red "glassy" particles, claimed by Torben Risbo, member of the steering committee, to be all that is left from the meteorite, since it exploded and probably completely evaporated during entry into the atmosphere.

The two other members of the steering committee, Vagn Buchwald and Bj┐rn Frank J┐rgensen, seem to believe that bigger fragments of the meteorite did indeed survive entry, and further question the validity of Risbo's findings, claiming that they have not been tested against all organic and mineral particles normally found in this region of Greenland, thus leaving the ex-pedition without clear instructions what to look for in the snow samples. This is further ag-gravated by lack of powerful microscopes and mineralogical expertise at base camp.

Says expedition astronomer Lars Christensen, deputy of Bj┐rn Frank Jorgensen: "It is not certain that the red particles are not red algae, which are also found on the snow. Furthermore it has not been ascertained beyond doubt that the "Risbo-particles" are of meteoritic origin."

Christensen together with geologist Hans Henrik Olsen will later today check know samples of red algae against red "Risbo-particles" found in snow samples earlier this week. But their test-capabilities are limited, due lack of powerful microscopes.

As a last minute attempt to provide the expedition with more accurate information, tests on the filtered snow samples should be carried out on adequate facilities today at The Institute of Geology in Copenhagen.

Origin of meteorite uncertain

The angle and velocity of the meteorite, as it entered the atmosphere on Dec.

9. last year, raises questions as to its origin. This might be the reason for the discrepancies amongst the members of the steering-committee. The velocity at entry exceeded 50 kilometers pr. second, and the angle differed from the plane of the ecliptic by app. 30 degrees, leaving the possibility that it could have been a comet and not meteorite, which normally stem from the Asteroid-belt, situated in the plane of the ecliptic. Finally it cannot be ruled out that the bolide stems from outside the solar system.

If it was a comet or an interstellar meteor it should have exploded and evaporated during entry, but it should be possible to retrieve microscopic particles - but the difficulties in identifying such particles now seems to have been underestimated, as well as the difficulties of finding bigger fragments, if such do exist, in the extremely difficult terrain of the inland ice.

Search for meteorite along new trajectory shows no results

No trace of meteorite fragments was found during a day-long intensive helicopter search car-ried out along the new impact trajectory, which was suggested yesterday by Dr. Ceplecha and U.S. Department of Defense experts.

Thirty-eight snow samples were collected during a day of frantic activity, as the new search-area is of about the same size as the one covered in the previous 21 days of work. Search is further hampered by the fact that serious doubts have been cast as to what exactly to look for. Frustration reigns among the expedition-members, as it turns out that the red parti-cles, which were supposed to indicate meteorite dust, have not been properly examined before the expedition left for the ice.

New trajectory calculations move impact zone 15 miles north

August 13, 1998

Following analysis of data from a U.S. Department of Defense intelligence satellite by Dr. Ceplacha of Prague, who has made major contributions to the analysis of the meteorite fall, and experts from the DOD, a new impact trajectory has been decided upon.

The direction of the trajectory of the meteorite has been changed from 280 deg. to 270 deg., which is in accordance with claims by several eyewitnesses from Qeqertarsuatsiaat. Thus, the search area has been moved to the north of the Dalager Nunataks.

This means that the last week of the meteorite expedition will turn into a race against time. Luckily, weather forecasts are good, so an intensive helicopter search is planned for the next three days, but probably search parties on foot are ruled out due to lack of time.

Snow samples reveal new traces of meteorite dust

crevasse

August 12, 1998

As the search for bigger fragments of the meteorite continues, preliminary microscopic analysis of snow samples taken in the northern sector of the impact zone reveals remarkable amounts of the red particles found earlier.

Unfortunately, the expedition will not be able to profit from such findings as the steering commitee in Copenhagen has not been able to provide the necessary facilities for polarization- and electron microscopy in time for any results to reach the ice before the expedition demobilizes and leaves for Nassarsuaq on Monday the 17th.

Final week of expedition marked by first snowstorm

August 12, 1998

As the meteorite expedition enters its last week of activities, the first sign of winter appears. Last night, the lone whistle of a bird was heard on the otherwise lifeless Nunatak "M." At breakfast this morning, it was interpreted as a warning of winter by Hans Henrik Berthelsen, the master pathfinder of the expedition.

Later as the search party left to investigate what appeared to be solitary stones about eight kilometers to the northwest of the base camp, weather was calm and the party made good headway, reaching their target in a record two hours. But the stones turned out to be a crevasse, distorted by the mirages when observed through binoculars in yesterday's fine sunshine.

As the party made its way to evacuate the satellite camp where Rene and Tore had been taking snow samples for two days, a snowstorm broke making the return trip a slow one indeed. The 10 kilometers back took more than five hours, as the storm created a total white out, the party having to rely on GPS and compass to make its way back to base camp.

For expedition leader Jan Almquist, a veteran of the SIRIUS patrol in Northeast Greenland, this was a refreshing interlude. But for junior members of the party it was an ordeal to remember.

With only a week to go, hope of finding meteorite fragments is starting to wane, even more so as it now is clear that the analysis of the snow samples will not be completed in time for the expedition to profit from them.

Search for bigger meteorite fragments intensifies

helo

August 11, 1998

An extensive helicopter search along a grid pattern has been performed over the highly crevassed sector of the glacier South of Kangilla Nunatak. Several solitary big stones were spotted, but on closer inspection they turned out to be of mineral origin.

Weather has finally changed to fine sunshine and blue skies, the inland ice lying like a white ocean, nunataks protruding like little islands. The full moon is out at night, creating an eerie scenery of supernatural beauty. Somewhere in this crystal wasteland lie the remnants of the meteorite - they have to.

Search continue on the inland ice

view

August 10, 1998

After an exhilarating weekend with false reports of craters on the coast, the expedition resumed work on the glaciers. Base camp having been moved 18 kilometers to the north to the Nunatak "M," the expedition has been blessed with magnificent weather with sky clear all around the horizon.

The new campsite is on solid ground, a small island of stones and gravel in the middle of the infinite ice-ocean. At last the tents can be piched without the ground melting away, and as Nunatak "M" is at elevation 1300 meters plus, the site offers an astounding view of the real Greenland in all its majesty.

A satellite camp with a crew of two, Tore and Rene, has been established out on the glacier about 18 kilometers from "M." Their task is to collect a giant snow sample of 1 ton, melt it and filter it to be brought back for analysis. The job is expected to take three days, and for that time Tore and Rene will be some of loneliest souls on the planet, their only connection to the outside world being a radio with limited battery capacity and some emergency flares. But they are tough buggers, so no sweat.

Craters were natural erosion

August 8, 1998

Game warden Michael Johnsen sent a good part of the Greenlandair helicopter flight on a wild goose chase in the archipelago south of of the village Qeqertarsuatsiaat this morning with his report about craters and stones on the northern bank of the fiord of Ikatoq.

Geologist Hans Christian Olsen of the Greenland Bureau of Minerals was first on scene, only to find that Johnsen had mistaken natural erosion for a meteorite impact site.

Members of the meteorite expedition who had flown to check on Johnsen's findings returned immediately to ice, where weather conditions finally after seven days of fog, rain and gales were favorable for moving the base camp.

A new camp was pitched on the Nunatak "M", about 18 kilometers to the north of the old campsite.

Meteorite creaters spotted on the coast

August 8, 1998

Craters and fragments of the the giant meteorite were possibly spotted on the coast, according to a message recieved at the base camp earlier tonight.

After days of stalemate because of bad weather, the expedition received a sudden boost earlier tonight, as expedition member Hans Henrik Berthelsen could confirm messages that one of his fellow game wardens had spotted craters and stones at a remote and inaccessible inlet on the coast, about100 kilometers from the assessed impact zone.

Plans for deployment of the helicopter which is due for tomorrow morning were immediately rearranged, as maps were studied and calls made to the appropriate authorities making sure that if the stones and craters really do stem from the meteorite, everything is left untouched until the scientists can reach the location.

Meteorite expedition completely halted by bad weather

mosaic

August 7, 1998

As the seventh consecutive day passes without any improvement in weather conditions, strain is starting to show on the faces of expedition members. They are trying to kill time by reading, playing games and going over equipment. During the night, the wind has veered to the south, bringing heavy rains and currents, coming closer and closer to the tents.

Word from Greenlandair in Nuuk is that maybe a Bell 212 can take off around noon, but disillusion and black humor is spreading. The men say they won't leave, because they're going for the West coast record of weather immobility.

After several attempts during the day by Greenlandair helicopters to take off for the inland ice, further efforts were canceled by nightfall, pending the morning's weather forecast which is unusually gloomy -- even for this part of the world. The meteorologists at Kangerlussuaq could only answer "anything" when prompted to give a forecast.

So the expedition, well ahead of schedule by the start of this week, will be running into serious timing problems unless helicopters can operate by tomorrow. The temperature is lurking around 0 degrees Celsius, and the summer may very well have come and gone this very week. It may start to snow anytime now, and so the opportunity of finding bigger fragments of the meteorite lying on the ice may be lost.

There have been requests as to the methodology of collecting snow samples. While it is not possible for us to give coordinates here, we have supplied a copy of the field map.

Fog stalls expedition for fifth day in a row

cake

August 6, 1998

The search for the giant meteorite in Greenland has been now halted for five days in a row due to lack of helicopter backup. The seven-man expedition is lying idle in the tents as fog on the southwest Greenland coast is crippling helicopter activity.

A Hughes MD 500 helicopter has been standing by at the heliport of Paamiut/Frederikshaab about 80 miles to the south of base camp. Several attempts have been made to find a hole in the heavy fog covering the archipelago off the coast, but the pilot had to abort, since the chopper is not equipped for instrument flight.

By tomorrow, a Greenlandair twin engine Bell 212 equipped for instrument flight will make an attempt to reach the base camp by flying a straight line over the ice from Nuuk, an approach normally not practiced due to danger of white-out.

Meanwhile, as a cheerful interlude, the 29th birthday of electronics expert Rene S┐rensen was celebrated with a cholesterol bomb of a birthday cake, consisting of breakfast oats, cocoa powder, sugar and butter, with an icing of condensed milk. The decoration was an inflatable orchid.

Fog stalls meteorite search

Base camp looks like an equipment dump   

August 5, 1998

Fog on the west coast of Greenland has grounded the helicopter badly needed for moving the base camp of the meteorite expedition.

While the weather at base camp on the glaciers this morning was clear and visibility was unlimited, dense fog and low hanging clouds crippled traffic on the coast. Later in the day it was vice versa. Throughout the afternoon, conditions varied but the right permutation of good weather in both places never came.

So to kill time, a search party left to go over the west side of the Kangilla Nunataks one more time. Still no meteorites were found. As they returned all hope of helicopter activity was definitely called off for the day.

Says expedition leader Jan Almquist, a veteran of polar travel: "I have never experienced weather like this. Normally, it's three days of bad weather followed by three days of good weather but its been bad ever since we arrived. If not up here on the the ice, then down on the coast."

So one more night will have to be spent at the site of the old base camp which by now looks more like an equipment dump. Everything remains packed and ready to go.

First phase of meteorite search ends

August 4, 1998

tent

The collecting of snow samples has been terminated in the southern sector of the impact zone. The original plan of analysing them on location has been given up due to lack of equipment, experience and sanitary conditions. The filtered samples will be flown to Copenhagen for the analysis, and it is doubtful whether the results will be ready in time to be of any help to the field work ahead.

The base camp just north of the Kangilla Nunataks was broken down today. It was the first fine day since camp was pitched on July 23. All clear sky and bright sunshine would have made it a moving day to remember -- except that the helicopter was grounded by fog further north on the coast.

So at end of the day, there was no moving. One more night will have to be spent at the Kangilla camp.

First pictures of dust storm from giant meteorite

August 2, 1998

Following microscopic analysis by Torben Risbo, coordinator of the meteorite search, the first pictures of dust from the meteorite have been published with Risbo's comments:

the fly

"The fly"

Brown particle, originally fine crystalline material. Sharp fragmentation edges probably formed by an explosive event Surface smoothed by subsequent melting. In the canyon between two legs, threads have been formed by melting and are broken away leaving an array of stumps of equal length. Probably the origin of the glass threads found elsewhere. Length: 1 mm, the biggest fragment found.

-- Torben Risbo


glass
Red "glass" fragment (right) 200 mu length   

The grains and fragments are found from snow samples taken over an area from the calculated fall region representing more than 100 square kilometers of ice surface. The snow samples were 1-2 kg. They were melted and filtered on paper filter for later analysis.

The degree of glassiness of the material is not established yet. Polarization microscopy is a way of observing the amount of amorphous (glass) material in the samples. Material can be found both as apparently small crystalline grain assembly and in varying degrees of transformations to glass. The glass threads are probably the ultimate glassy appearance of the same material. Colors of red and blue are the most common, followed by brown.

Volcanic glass is well known, but there have been no eruptions this winter, so the particles are not geological material carried onto glaciers by the wind. That leaves only the meteorite.

Expedition continues according to plan

The microscopic analysis from Copenhagen has added new emphasis to amassing of snow samples, of which so far 55 have been collected. They have been melted and filtered and are now ready for shipment to Copenhagen for analysis. The results should be ready in time for the expedition to narrow down its search area.

As melting of last year's snow now is in its final stage and snow samples from the northern sector of the impact zone are still missing, the expedition will move camp toward the north for a last session of snow sampling.

After that, the hope is that the melting of the snow will have laid bare the so-called "blue ice," facilitating the search for bigger fragments. This search will be quite demanding for the crew, as the thawing is revealing exactly how many crevasses are criss-crossing the search-area. In principle, they all have to be searched, making it necessary to descend with rope and ice-picks into hundreds of crevasses.

After two days of gale-force winds and rain, morale received a boost yesterday, as a Gulfstream G3 jet from The Royal Danish Air Force Ice Patrol made a low level pass over base-camp, dropping much appreciated supplies of soft drinks, newspapers and beer. Silence reigned at dinner, as drinks were enjoyed, and the feats of the Danish bikers in the Tour de France were studied on the sports pages.

Storm is brewing, as first conclusions are drawn

July 30, 1998

computer

Analysis of the dust filtered from snow samples now show microscopic red and blue particles stemming from the meteorite. There is no information about particular patterns or concentra-tions in the samples taken during the present phase of the search. However, samples taken during the preparatory expedition in June show a high concentration of particles further to the north.

It has therefore been decided to move the base camp to Nunatak "M" on the northern edge of the assessed impact zone, which is just as well, since there has been a storm brewing for the last two days. With gusts of 36 knots, the refraction causes the ice to melt rapidly creating multiple currents of melting water growing by the hour. Although the men are constantly carving channels in the ice to prevent the streams from inundating the tents, by now the camp is jeopardized.

A search party of five made a six-hour sortie today, but could only make it three kilometers out, being constantly harassed by sludge swamps and crevasses. That particular sector will have to left to the helicopter, which will arrive back the day after tomorrow. The rest of the crew spent the day in camp, trying to stem the melting water and secure the tents which by now are standing high on some sort of ice foundations, the surrounding ice having melted by about 20 inches since camp was pitched nine days ago.

By evening, it was story-telling time. Expedition leader Jan Almquist related how he traveled to the South Pole, but was not allowed to bring his sled dogs into the American camp situated there. Apparently, they were considered a health hazard to the researchers working there.

Pathfinder Hans Henrik Berthelsen told stories about how as a kid, he used to find opals and rubies while roaming the fjords, and once they found a big silvery rock, which would melt when hit by the rays of the sun.

Otherwise, the camp is settling down for an uneasy night, not knowing whether the storm will continue building up. If so, provided the tents will hold and the melt water currents can be kept at bay, there will be some long hours spent in the sleeping bags.

Nine days on the ice searching for giant meteorite

By Jan Haugaard, DR TV

July 29, 1998

boots

As the ninth day on the ice draws to an end, a gale is building up from the southeast. The group is busy inside the tents. The sounds of canvas flapping, rain drumming, and camp stoves hissing mingle with Microsoft fanfares as computers process the findings of the day.

E-mails have come in via the Inmarsat-phones from the scientists in Copenhagen, confirming to some degree the assessment of fisherman Jacob M┐ller that the bigger fragments of the me-teorite must have fallen at a more westerly position. But there's still the considerable task of finishing the collecting of snow samples to be sifted for meteorite dust, just in case no bigger fragments are found.

Already the analysis of dust collected in late June has produced evidence that the meteorite did indeed fall somewhere around here, but the dust particles are too small to tell anything about the crystal structure or the origin of the meteorite.

Meanwhile, planning goes ahead for the coming days, as far as planning is possible in this ca-pricious spot on the inland ice. Search parties still have some sectors to roam and snow sam-ples to collect before the camp will be moved to a more northwesterly position on August 2. A campsite has been located on Nunatak "M," where the tents can be seen pitched on solid ground instead of ice. New analysis of samples taken near Nunatak "M" in June show, in support of Jacob M┐ller, a high concentration of tiny, dropshaped glass-particles, proba-bly molten remnants of the meteorite.

Also on August 2, there will be prominent visitors to the basecamp. Two members of the editorial staff of the journal Scientific American will fly in, adding important scientific prestige to the expedition.

Although it is still a momentous task to locate anything substantial, morale among the expedi-tion members is high, food and fuel are plentiful, nobody is sick, and everybody is receeding into the "Greenland Mode." That is, take things as they come; maybe tomorrow again will be "Ajungilaq" -- sunshine and blue skies.

Eyewitness disagrees about impact zone

lab

July 28, 1998

Fisherman Jacob M┐ller disagrees with scientists in Copenhagen, who assessed the impact zone of the giant meteorite in southwest Greenland.

On December 9, 1997, at 5 a.m. local time, M┐ller saw from his bedroom window more than a dozen great fireballs drop behind the mountains to the east of his native village, Qeqertarsuat-siaat.

Today he hovered over his house in a helicopter, his wife waving below, as he indicated the direction in which he saw the fireballs disappear. He is familiar with the wild landscape from 40 years of hunting, and as the helicopter passed the southern shore of the inlet of Bj┐rnesund, he was sure - some of the fireballs must have dropped here, apprxiamately 100 kilometers more westerly than assessed by the scientists.

The helicopter continued to the base camp of the meteorite expedition, where expedition leader Jan Alquist had food for thought -- the assessment of the skilled hunter and fisherman versus the scientists in Copenhagen.

M┐ller claims the last explosion as the meteorite was braked by the atmosphere could have stopped it in its tracks, making the fragments drop to the ground like bags of cement. This idea is not foreign to the scientists, but has been discarded as too theoretical. But this is a highly unusual meteorite fall. The extreme velocity of the bolide as it entered the atmosphere should, according to theory, have made it evaporate into atoms. But it did not, because then Jacob M┐ller would not have seen what he saw.

So maybe the expedition is looking in the wrong place if it wants to find anything but dust.

Looking for a needle in a haystack

group

July 27, 1998

By Jan Haugaard

As search parties roam the 50 square kilometer impact zone, scientists back at base camp are examining snow samples for microscopic particles, which might give more exact clues as to the location of bigger fragments.

The work of the search parties is harassed by constant drizzle, making prolonged stays in the field impossible. Helicopter activity is impaired by lack of special skis and floats needed to touch down safely on the glaciers, which by now form a vast watershed changing by the hour, revealing crevasses in areas thought to be solid and safe.

Even the Greenlanders are surprised by the amount of snow still covering the impact zone. Normally at this time of year the ice should be exposed, leaving remnants of the meteorite visible. Helicopter assistance is badly needed to form an overview of accessible areas, but the weather forecast is bleak, promising fog, rain and moderate southeasterly wind.

So the search parties trudge on, knee deep in sludge to cover their assigned quadrants, but pro-gress is slow, a maximum of 1 kilometer per hour, as they constantly have to probe the wet snow for hidden crevasses.

Back at base camp, it is a constant struggle to dig trenches to prevent water from inundating the tents. Luckily, supplies are plenty, including fuel for stoking the camp stoves which by now are used mainly for drying clothes and equipment.

In the heart of the impact zone

July 24, 1998

copter

By Jan Haugaard

Six yellow dome tents adorn the glacier just north of the Kangilla Nunataks, in the heart of the impact zone of the giant meteorite, which fell over southern Greenland on December 9 of last year.

A southeasterly breeze is carrying a slight drizzle, which is pearling off the Gore-Tex of the polargear, as the men are working hard to arrange the basecamp. Clouds in the color of lead are drifting down from the high inland ice, which is just a white wall to the east, with no visible horizon. The surface of the glacier is like sorbet, and you only have to dig down a few inches before it becomes cool, clear water running down towards the west where it will converge into wild turrents reaching for the Davis Strait.

There is no trace of the violent event that happened on that cold winter's night over six months ago, as the meteorite came thundering down through the heavens. But then again, this place seems to be able to withstand a nuclear blast without any damage; the remnants of the meteorite could be hiding anywhere.

It is a vast undertaking that lies ahead. The impact zone covers 50 square kilometres, and although Greenlandair is providing ample helicopter back-up, the actual spotting of what is left of the meteorite will have to be done on foot.

Home away from home

July 23, 1998

camp

By dawn today, the expedition searching for the giant meteorite had unloaded its equipment at the Ivigtut Royal Danish Navy base in southwest Greenland. Thursday, on arrival at the former US Air Force Base at Narsasuaq, the 5 Danish crew were joined by 2 Greenlanders, geologist Hans Henrik Olsen and Hans Henrik Berthelsen, a fisherman.

A native of the village Qeqertarsuatsiaat, just 40 miles from the impact zone, Berthelsen has trekked extensively on the glaciers, adding expert knowledge of terrain and weather conditions to the expedition.

This afternoon, an advance party will reach the impact zone for an appropriate campsite, and tonight, weather permitting, it will be the first lullaby on the ice.

Related stories:
  • Search for giant meteorite starts next week - July 16, 1998
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