January 2023 – Volume Twenty-Nine, Number One
Celebrating our 28th year!
EXPEDITION NEWS, founded in 1994, is the monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate.


The Iceland Exploration Museum Announces Leif Erikson Awards

The board of directors of the Leif Erikson Awards, hosted by the Exploration Museum in Húsavík, Iceland, has announced the recipients of the 2021 and 2022 Leif Erikson Awards.

The Leif Erikson Awards are awarded annually in Iceland in three categories: the Leif Erikson Award to an explorer for lifetime achievement in exploration; Leif Erikson Young Explorer Award to an explorer under the age of 35 for achievements in exploration; and the Leif Erikson Exploration History Award, awarded to a person or an organization that has worked to promote and preserve exploration history, or to educate about exploration, science and environment issues. As the awards were postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the museum now awards six individuals, instead of three.

Recipients are:

•           2022 Leif Erikson Award – Kathy Sullivan – Geologist, oceanographer and astronaut, for her lifetime of exploration for science.

•           2021 Leif Erikson Award  – Will Steger – Polar explorer and preservation advocate for his lifetime of exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic, and for his tireless efforts to promote the preservation of these important regions of the world. 

•           2022 Leif Erikson Exploration History Award – J.R. Harris – American explorer and diversity advocate awarded for his lifetime of exploration, as well as tireless efforts to promote diversity in exploration. 

•           2021 Geoff Green – Exploration History Award – Canadian expedition leader for his work on polar education and youth engagement. As the founder and president of the award-winning Students on Ice Foundation, Green has dedicated the past three decades to raising awareness and understanding of the Arctic, the Antarctic and places in between.

•           2022 Young Explorer Award – Belén Garcia Ovide – Spanish-Icelandic marine biologist and wildlife guide for her work in promoting ocean protection through exploration and citizen science. In 2019, she founded Ocean Missions, a non-profit organization in Husavík where through a combination of research, citizen science, education and traditional sailing, her mission is to inspire the world to take direct action to protect the oceans.
Dominique Gonçalves
•           2021 Young Explorer Award – Dominique Gonçalves
– Mozambican ecologist awarded for her work on elephant conservation in Gorongosa National Park. Gonçalves currently serves as Manager of the Park's Elephant Ecology Project, where she investigates elephant movement and range expansion in relation to habitat use and human-elephant conflict.
The awards are named for Icelandic explorer Leif Erikson who is considered the first European to land in North America and who, according to the Sagas of Icelanders, established the first Norse settlement at Vinland, tentatively identified with the Norse L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada.

The museum is located in the quaint Northern Iceland whaling community of Husavik, made famous by the Oscar-nominated song Husavik – My Homeland. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjuphuG3ndw)

Brian May (Photo: NASA)
Astrophysicist Sure Plays a Mean Guitar

Queen co-founder and guitarist Brian May, 75, has been knighted. As one of the first to receive the honor under the recently crowned King Charles III, as part of the 2023 edition of the King’s New Year Honours List, he is now Sir Brian Harold May. He was knighted “for services to music and charity work.” May was previously appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005.

The notice described him as a “Musician, Songwriter and Animal Welfare Advocate.” Few people, however, realize that in addition to performing with Queen since the 1970s, May is also an astrophysicist. He received his Ph.D. in astrophysics from Imperial College London in 2007 after taking a break from his studies in the 1970s to focus on Queen.

May was among the influencers enlisted in 2015 to help connect the New Horizons flyby of Pluto with wide public audiences, according to Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto, by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon (Picador, 2018).

He created the official music video for the project that you can enjoy here:

May is also well known for his historic rendition of God Save the Queen played in 2002 from the roof of Buckingham Palace in honor of the real Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

See it here:

For decades, the Mapleson Cylinders – recordings from Lionel Mapleson, an English-born librarian for the Metropolitan Opera – have been a valuable but fragile resource.
Photo: The New York Times
Wax Cylinders Come Alive

Hold onto those wax cylinders from grandma. They’re an audio format popularized in the late 19th century as the first commercial means of recording sound. Lionel Mapleson, an English-born librarian for the Metropolitan Opera, made hundreds of wax cylinder recordings, capturing both the turn-of-the-century opera performances he saw as part of his job and the minutiae of family life, according to the New York Times story by Jeremy Gordon (Jan. 2).

For decades, the Mapleson Cylinders, as they’re called by archivists and audiologists, have been a valuable but fragile resource. Wax cylinders were not made for long-term use – the earliest models wore out after a few dozen plays – and are especially vulnerable to poor storage conditions. But with the innovation of the Endpoint Cylinder and Dictabelt Machine, a custom-built piece of equipment made specifically for safely transferring audio from the cylinders, the library is embarking on an ambitious preservation project: to digitize not just the Mapleson Cylinders, but roughly 2,500 others in the library’s possession.

Watch this amazing machine restore music from a cracked cylinder:

It’s expected that this technology will help preserve the voices of the early 20th century’s greatest explorers, including Sir Ernest Shackleton, recorded in wax on Edison Amberol No. 473 in 1909. Watch a fascinating slide show titled My South Polar Expedition, and hear his voice at:

Ocean Rowers Plan to Re-create Shackleton’s Lifeboat Journey and
Honor “Chippy” McNish
The six-person Shackleton Mission team will embark this month on an 800-nautical mile (1300 km) rowing journey across the Southern Ocean and the Scotia Sea. They are inspired by the 17-day voyage in April 1916 made by Sir Ernest Shackleton and his five-man crew in their 23-ft. lifeboat James Caird. Despite many dramatic failures, the rescue mission ended with the heroic survival of the entire 28-person crew, and has been called the greatest small boat voyage of all time.

The team hopes to have the Polar Medal, one of the world’s most prestigious award for polar exploration, awarded posthumously to a member of the original crew, Harry “Chippy” McNish, who was overlooked at the time despite being one of the most competent team members. The boat of the 2023 expedition is named Mrs Chippy in memory of Chippy’s cat who accompanied the original voyage. 

The Polar Medal is a UK medal awarded to individuals who have outstanding achievements in the field of polar research, and particularly for those who have worked over extended periods in harsh climates. It was instituted in 1857 as the Arctic Medal, and renamed the Polar Medal in 1904.
Icelander Fiann Paul
The effort is captioned by Icelander Fiann Paul, 42, who was previously leader of The Impossible Row, a human-powered ocean row across the Drake Passage, considered one of the most dangerous patches of open ocean on earth. In December 2019, he was joined by a team of five record-holding explorers and athletes including Colin O’Brady. That effort was documented by Discovery+.
The Shackleton Mission is sponsored in part by Actipth Alkaline Ionized Water, Nansen Polar Expeditions, Polar Latitudes, and SiteGround.

For more information:

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” 

John Muir (1838 - 1914), influential Scottish-born American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist, writer, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the U.S.

Dem Bones

This year, one tail vertebra from a long-necked dinosaur was auctioned off for more than $8,000. A single spike from a Stegosaurus’s tail sold for more than $20,000. A Tyrannosaurus rex tooth? More than $100,000.

In a booming market for dinosaur fossils, Sotheby’s estimated that a 160 lbs. T. rex skull it was auctioning would fetch between $15 million and $20 million. But at its sale on Dec. 9, the specimen was sold for $6.1 million, including fees, to an anonymous buyer, according to the New York Times story by Julia Jacobs and Zachary Small (Dec. 9).

The auction raised questions about whether the gold rush moment for dinosaurs – which has upset many academic paleontologists who fear that their research is being turned into trophies – was showing signs of ebbing.

It was excavated over field seasons in 2020 and 2021 on private land, Hell Creek Formation, Harding County, South Dakota.

Here’s the Times story:

Read the Sotheby's catalog description:

Scene from 1989 Bering Bridge Expedition (Photo: Richard Weber). Travel across the Bering Sea would have been nearly impossible were it not for skis.
New Annual $5,000 Grant to Support Ski Museums

Few polar expeditions could be accomplished without the use of skis, especially since dogs were banned from Antarctica in 1994. Now the dozens of ski museums around the world, the repositories of historic skis used in exploration, are eligible for a $5,000 annual grant from the International Skiing History Association (ISHA).   
Eighty-two ski museums around the world were invited in early December to apply for the $5,000 grant available in the program, according to Rick Moulton, chairman of ISHA. One grant will be awarded each year.
Practice on Skis, Ross Island, National Antarctic Expedition 1901-04, Photographer: Sir Ernest Shackleton. Photo available to purchase for £16 from the Royal Geographical Society, part of its digitization program to protect historic exploration images. (www.rgsprintstore.com)
ISHA is offering funds for capital projects intended to help a ski museum increase its awareness and community support. Applications are being accepted in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian or Japanese. The deadline for submission is January 20, 2023 to https://www.skiinghistory.org/museum-grant-application. (Password: grantapp). 


Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk (St. Martin’s Press, 2022) by Buddy Levy

In 1913, the Karluk, flagship of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, became trapped in the Arctic ice. Over months of constant darkness, the old ship drifted away from land, carrying a party of explorers, engineers and Inuit hunters toward near-certain death. With every mile, the ice squeezed harder. And the walls of the ship began to crack, according to W.M. Akers’ review of Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk (St. Martin’s Press, 2022), in the New York Times (Dec. 18).
“She creaked and groaned and, once or twice actually sobbed as the water oozed through her seams,” wrote the Karluk’s captain, Robert Bartlett. “There is nothing more human than a ship in ice pressure.”
Buddy Levy’s Empire of Ice and Stone tells the story of the Karluk, the ice and the 25 people who were trapped between them. It is a sickening, terrifying tale, told in book form more than once before — a testament to the idiotic optimism with which white men first blundered across the Arctic and the sacrifices required to bring them home. Through it twists a single question: How do you prepare for hell?, writes The Times’ Akers.
Although to the press, expedition leader Vilhjalmur Stefansson promoted the Canadian endeavor as “the most ambitious and best-equipped scientific expedition to the Arctic yet,” preparation was sloppy. Scientific equipment and winter gear were spread thoughtlessly across the expedition’s three ships, with plans to sort everything out once they were already underway. Instead of buying sufficient warm clothes, Stefansson brought aboard an Inuit seamstress named Kiruk to sew them while they sailed. And when warned that some of the canned pemmican, an essential survival food, “might contain trace fragments of metal or glass,” he shrugged it off, writing: “Damn the purity tests. Order pemmican immediately. We have no alternative.”
“The Inuit members of the party – the hunters Kataktovik and Kuraluk, and Kiruk and her two young daughters – save the helpless white men repeatedly, feeding and clothing them and showing that winter in the Arctic can, with luck, be survived,” writes reviewer W.M. Akers.
Read the review here:

Ocean Depth Comparison in 3D

We can’t keep our eyes off this 3D animation of the ocean depths, from the beach to the Mariana Trench (11,034 meters (36,201 feet). Fascinating. It was produced by MetaBall Studios and has been viewed nine million times; obviously, others agree.

Watch it here:


What happens when rough seas across the Drake Passage cause bunks to fall away, leaving the hapless passenger momentarily floating in air as the ship drops, then land on the bed again when the ship rises out of the wave. It’s here that the Pacific Ocean collides with the waters of the Atlantic producing massive waves. Calm seas are called the “Drake Lake.” Astronauting occurs in angry seas, called the “Drake Shake.”

– Source: Dave Finnegan, Polar Citizen Science Collective

Dust Devils

Dust devils (convective vortices loaded with dust) are common at the surface of Mars, particularly at Jezero crater, the landing site of the Perseverance rover.
A cleaning event is a phenomenon whereby dust is removed from solar panels, in the context of exploration and science rovers on Mars, supposedly by the action of this wind.

– Source: Good Night Oppy, the Amazon Prime documentary that recounts the story of NASA’s Opportunity rover, or Oppy as it was lovingly known by its creators. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab helped with the project, sharing archival footage and knowledge of the rover’s mission. What was initially supposed to be a 90-day mission turned into a 15-year adventure exploring the Red Planet.
Listen to a dust devil recorded by Perseverence in September 2021:
Watch the trailer:

Whipple Shield

The Whipple shield or Whipple bumper, invented by Fred Whipple, is a type of hypervelocity impact shield used to protect crewed and uncrewed spacecraft from collisions with micrometeoroids and orbital debris. According to NASA, the Whipple shield is designed to withstand collisions with debris up to 1 cm.

In 1978 space writer Leonard David published in Future magazine the article "Space Junk: It'sTime to Invent Orbital Baggies." A non-technical piece, it was the first popular story to describe large uncatalogued space debris. 

According to the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 12-13, 2022), the space race comes with a growing litter problem: U.S. officials expect the number of satellites to increase almost tenfold to 58,000 by 2030, many of them with lifespans not much longer than five years.

“Only three big collisions have happened to date, but close calls are increasingly common,” writes the Journal’s Jon Sindreu.

Cave exploration's GOAT
Marion Smith (1942-2022)
Caver was the GOAT
Could caves possibly encompass more phobias? You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more nightmare scenario for the average person. Fear of closed spaces (claustrophobia). Fear of falling (basophobia). Fear of being lost (Mazeophobia). Fear of the dark (nyctophobia). Fear of drowning (Thalassophobia). Fear of bats (chiroptophobia). Fear of spiders (arachnophobia). Better stop us before we engage in gross verbosity, aka sesquipedalian loquaciousness.

But let us not digress.

Considering these numerous underground phobias, the career of the late Marion Smith was extraordinary.

A relentless, irascible subterranean explorer who was believed to have visited more caves than anyone else in human history, he died on Nov. 30 at his home in Rock Island, Tenn., at the age of 80.
The cause was congestive heart failure and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, said his partner, Sharon Jones.
His fellow cavers called Mr. Smith “the Goat,” and he certainly looked the part, with a compact, wiry body and a wispy caprine beard dangling below a well-cragged face, according to the Dec. 16 obituary by Clay Risen in the New York Times.
He was likewise goatish in his implacable determination to keep going through mud and cold and scraped shins, with little patience for those who couldn’t keep up. He was still caving long past the age when most people would decide to hang up their headlamps: His personal record for most cave visits in a year — 335 — came in 2013, when he turned 71.
Remembers noted caver and author Bill Steele, “I knew Marion Smith very well. I met him the first time in 1969. He participated on the Huautla cave flag expedition in 1985. I was on many expeditions with him. The last time I saw him was in June this year at the national convention of the National Speleological Society held in Rapid City, South Dakota. 

“My book Huautla: Thirty Years in One of the World’s Deepest Cave (Cave Books, 2009) starts with me being trapped in the cave named Sotano de San Agustin near the town of Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca, Mexico, which is now one section of Sistema Huautla. A caver had climbed a 318-foot shaft to leave the cave and accidentally pulled the rope up so it was out of reach. Marion was there with me with four others,” Steele recalls. 

“During the days we were trapped we continued to explore and map the cave, hoping that someone would come into the cave to join us and dislodge the rope. On the fourth day no one had come in and a diabetic caver with us had run out of insulin. Marion and I went to the 300-foot shaft to climb it with aids we had improvised. He was the one willing to dare do it with me. As we commenced the climb the rope from above came down and a caver rappelled down to see why we weren’t rotating cavers like was the plan. 

“Marion was one of a kind. He could not get enough of original exploration,” Steele tells EN.  

Read the obituary here:

Editor’s Note: In December, Steele broke his leg in a cave, writing, “I slipped, fell to the floor, and landed badly. It happened too fast to plan my landing. Did a self-rescue. I always say that a cave self-rescue isn’t a rescue at all, it’s an inconvenience. It was that.”

We wish him a speedy recovery.

Explorers Club Annual Dinner, April 22, 2023, The Glasshouse, New York
The world's largest gathering of pioneers of exploration in space, in the oceans and on land will join together in New York City on April 22, 2023 for the Explorers Club Annual Dinner (ECAD) at The Glasshouse. Celebrate the victories we have won on the path to conserving our earth.
The dinner highlights a weekend that includes special events featuring many of the world's most famous and distinguished explorers, based upon the theme Conservation.
The lowest available ticket price at press time was $875 per person. For more information: explorers.org
The New York Public Library has a fascinating collection of Explorers Club luncheon and dinner menus dating back to at least 1906. At this dinner honoring explorer Fridtjof Nansen in 1923, one menu item was Vol-au-Vent of Sweetbread (organ meat), cigarettes and cigars. That's ok, we'll stick with the hissing cockroaches and ants served at ECAD today.
See the collection here: https://tinyurl.com/NYPLTECMenus
Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield) by Jeff Blumenfeld ­– Travel has come roaring back and so has voluntourism. Be ready to lend a hand wherever you go. How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? Read excerpts and “Look Inside” at: tinyurl.com/voluntourismbook
Get Sponsored! – Need money for your next project? Read about proven techniques that will help you find both cash and in-kind sponsors. If the trip is bigger than you, and is designed to help others, well, that’s half the game right there. Read Jeff Blumenfeld’s "Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers." (Skyhorse Publishing).
Buy it here:

Advertise in Expedition News – For more information: blumassoc@aol.com
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