UK Team on Antarctic Land Crossing
Explorers, scientists and mechanics have teamed together in Antarctica to start their epic journey to cross the frozen continent on land. The Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition hopes to set a new record for the crossing whilst conducting a range of scientific experiments as they go. The experiments include road testing the impact on the environment using biofuels in extreme environments and continuously monitoring effects the low temperatures have on their bodies. The team of experts are hoping to make their journey across the pole between now and the end of 2010. The convoy included two monster trucks and a propeller-driven scout vehicle. They aim to travel via the south pole and the Transantarctic Mountain Range to McMurdo station and then back using the same route. They are expected to spend around 40 days on ice, travelling some 5.800 kilometres. The team, headed by explorers Andrew Regan and Andrew Moon will be armed with ice-penetrating radar to spot any dangers that may lie ahead on their journey. Before their departure, Andrew Regan said: “Some of the crevasses can be a kilometre deep, so obviously if you go down one of those that's the end of it - there's no one to get you out." "This time we have a ground penetrating radar, so in the areas where the crevasse fields are, we'll go nice and slow and use the radar just to make sure. But crevasses are the biggest risk." Along the journey, the crew will be testing health monitoring equipment that will continuously and wirelessly transmit their data to a central computer. They will also collect snow samples to test for trace metals, to track the passage of pollutants within the southern hemisphere. Before embarking the crew were also given specialist training to help them spot potential meteorite samples on the ice. But the main scientific experiment here will to to test how efficient biofuels are in extreme temperatures. Dr Robin North of Imperial College London has been working closely with the expedition and says: "Biofuels are an interesting opportunity for the future." "We are fueling the Winston Wong Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle on bioethanol. It will be the first biofueled vehicle at the pole.” "And then with these crew vehicles, we are looking at alternatives to kerosene, looking at how we can reduce the overall impact of this type of expedition in future."