Deep-sea explorer Dr Robert Ballard, the man who found the wreck of the Titanic, is mounting a scientific expedition to the central Pacific this month in a bid to solve the mysterious disappearance of 1930s aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.
Ballard has assembled a group of Earhart experts, scientists and technicians for a voyage that leaves Samoa on 7 August. They are heading for the remote atoll of Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati, aboard the Ocean Exploration Trust expedition vessel Nautilus.
The team plan to explore the waters around Nikumaroro using ROVs and autonomous surface vessels, while NatGeo archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert searches for Earhart’s possible campsite on the island using bone-sniffing dogs, DNA sampling and excavation.
Nikumaroro is part of the Phoenix Island Protected Area, the largest and deepest mid-ocean World Heritage site. The search area is based on what are claimed to be clues gathered over 30 years by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR).
The project will feature in a two-hour National Geographic documentary called Expedition Amelia, to be broadcast in 172 countries on 20 October. Whatever the outcome of the expedition, the aim is said to be to illuminate Earhart’s story, 82 years on from her disappearance.