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Meteor Scientists to Visit Antarctica

Posted August. 26, 2006 03:22,   


The Korea Polar Research Institute (KPRI) in Songdo, Incheon, under the wing of the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, will hit the road to the South Pole in an effort to study meteors for the first time in Korea.

On August 25, the institute announced the dispatch of seven members of a research team, including Lee Jong-ik, a researcher of the KPRI, and Choi Byeon-gak, a professor of Seoul National University, around the end of the December 2006 or January 2007.

By using a uniquely designed skidoo (a ski vehicle), the discovery team will play an active part for about a month in the Ellsworth Mountain range in the Antarctic to explore meteors hinting of the creation and evolution of the solar system.

Since the early 1970s when the South Pole started to be known as a hotbed of meteoric activity, countries like the U.S. and Japan began their exploration in the Antarctic, with Italy and China jumping on the bandwagon in 1990 and in 1998, respectively.

The galactic stones excavated from the South Pole amount to 30,000 pieces, which is equivalent to a whopping 80 percent of the total meteors found on the planet.

Jin Dong-min, KPRI chief of the planning team, explained that the Antarctic meteors can serve as a useful tool for fundamental scientific research because the Antarctic remains intact and the meteors have been left untouched since their drop.

The institute is scheduled to dispatch an iceboat in 2008 to the South Pole and to establish a research center in 2011.