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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Out Of This World - Aurora Expeditions Plan Antarctic Meteorite Collection

Aurora Expeditions is offering adventurers the opportunity to travel back in time and assist in the collection of an incredibly rare 5 kilogram meteorite on its upcoming Weddell Sea voyage to Antarctica this month.

Aurora Expeditions expert palaeontologist, Paul Willis, will be returning to the site where he miraculously discovered the meteorite on his last voyage to Seymour Island in 2008. On this occasion the expedition will bring the precious meteorite back to Australia.

Seymour Island is recognised as the best place in the world to observe what’s known as the K/T Boundary, the geological ‘line in the ground’ where the dinosaurs died some 65 million years ago. Parts of the island are carpeted with fossils from the floors of ancient seas showing a land where dinosaurs ruled and forests connected continents.

Paul Willis, renowned palaeontologist, geologist and ABC science presenter, made the incredible discovery on an Aurora Expeditions voyage in 2008. “We were looking for fossils on Seymour when I spied a grapefruit-size rock that was completely different to everything around it. I knew almost straight away what it was because it looked so unusual and because meteorites are relatively easy to find in Antarctica (there is no soil or vegetation covering them up). It was a fascinating specimen and, to my mind, one that ought to be collected and preserved for prosperity.”

Paul did not have the permits required to collect the meteorite, so he carefully photographed it and recorded its exact position. On his return to Australia, a meteorite expert at the Western Australian Museum confirmed that it was potentially of huge scientific interest and the long-awaited collection of this phenomenal meteorite will be taking place this month.

Aurora Expedition’s passengers will be treated to a truly remarkable experience as they join Paul in the retrieval of this fallen star. As with all Aurora Expeditions voyages, daily shore excursions and explorations using inflatable Zodiacs provide access to the best wildlife encounters and photographic opportunities. A team of expert naturalists and staff will guide passengers through the dramatic landscapes and abundant wildlife that embody the Antarctic Peninsula.

Limited to a small group of 54 passengers, the 12 day Weddell Sea voyage departs on 25th January 2010 from Ushuaia in Argentina. Voyage prices start from US$6090, excluding flights.

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