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Envisat images delivered to Antarctic eclipse spotters

The passengers of Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov experienced a little under two minutes of totality around 2340 CEST (2240 UTC) on Sunday 23 November, as the shadow of the Moon blocked out the Sun across eastern Antarctica. Local penguins are accustomed to near-permanent daylight during the south polar summer but they are not reported to have become upset.

A project called Antarctica 2003 has enabled thousands of school children across the world to follow the Kapitan Khlebnikov's journey to this remarkable event from their computers. The International Polar Foundation and the Footbridge Science Centre of the University of Geneva joined together to send specially selected 18-year-old Swiss student Loren Coquille on the trip, together with two accompanying scientists and also radio journalists.

Loren and the two scientists work as special correspondents during the trip, writing dispatches for the Antarctica 2003 website and also carrying out a variety of experiments. Schools across French-speaking Switzerland, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Canada are taking part in the project, designed to boost students' interest in science.

Eduspace, the European Earth Observation website for secondary schools, also contributed by supplying Envisat imagery of areas the ship was sailing into. MERIS and AATSR images are being used in open sea areas to compare against local chlorophyll and temperature measurements carried out from the ship, but while the Kapitan Khlebnikov made its way through the ice to make its eclipse deadline, ASAR radar imagery was sent.

"One of the scientist teachers, Didier Raboud, said he was very interested in comparing the radar data with the ice situation as presented on the ground, and also gave the images to the icebreaker's captain" said Juerg Lichtenegger, Eduspace team co-ordinator, and the person responsible for relaying the images to the ship.

Radar images work through clouds and darkness,
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Contact: Henri Laur
henri.laur@esa.int
39-06-941-80-557
European Space Agency
26-Nov-2003


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