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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2004, 12:54 GMT
Scientists in Shackleton's steps
Dr David Thomas' research team on their 2002 expedition
Dr David Thomas' research team on their 2002 expedition
Two Bangor scientists are to follow in the footsteps of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's legendary Endurance adventure.

David Thomas and Stathis Papadimitriou will travel with a German led expedition to the frozen wastes of the Weddell Sea in Antarctica.

Their ship will be locked into drifting ice for 50 days as they collect samples from the floe.

They are looking for clues from life forms living on the ice which could exist on frozen planets.

Dr Thomas, from the School of Ocean Science at Bangor University, said if such creatures are able to adapt to life on Earth, a question is raised about whether the same adaptations might work in the far colder frozen surfaces of Jupiter's moons and even on Mars.

"The exciting thing about this expedition is that normally we take our samples as the ship moves through an ice field, spending a maximum of one day at any one sampling point, and often only a few hours.

"On this trip we will be able to sample the same ice for nearly the whole Antarctic spring and early summer.

Sir Ernest Shackleton
Shackleton died on South Georgia Island where he is buried

"This will enable us to monitor changes in the chemistry and biology as we move from the Antarctic spring into early summer."

The predicted course of the drift, in a modern icebreaker with a laboratory on board, will travel near to where Shackleton's ship became trapped in ice.

The explorer and his crew was marooned for months in 1915 after their ship was crushed in the ice.

He eventually led his men to safety against all the odds, making an incredible journey across 800 frozen miles to South Georgia to get aid.

The November expedition will be Dr Thomas' fourth visit to the Antarctic.

The expedition for the pair, and fellow Bangor scientist Dr Hilary Kennedy to later research their findings, is being funded by 250,000 grants from the Natural Environment Research Council, Leverhulme Trust and the Royal Society.

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