Headline June 14th, 2012 / The New Great Game

"The New Great Game"

On August 2, 2007, two 26 foot long Russian submersibles, Mir-I and Mir-2, descended through a hole in the ice at the North Pole. The Arctic, which has been losing almost 10 percent of its ice per decade, since 1953, was in the middle of its biggest summer melt back on record, but the ice at the pole was still five feet thick, and the hole had to be opened by the Nuclear icebreaker Rossiya. 

Once below the surface, the submersibles, sank more than two and a half miles down, to the Ocean floor. At the helm of Mir-1 was Anatoly Sagalevich, head of the Deep Manned Submersibles Laboratory at the Russian Academy of Science's P.P: Shirshov Institute of Oceanology. Although they officially belonged to the academy, the two Mirs were Sagalevich's babies. 

Later in Moscow, Sagalevich recalled being inside the cockpit and watched the hole above him grow smaller and smaller until it finally disappeared. The ships spent about eight and so hours underwater, and 90 minutes at the bottom. 

Using a Robotic arm attached to the submersible, Sagalevich collected geologic samples and planted a titanium Russian flag in the murky sediment. The pressure at this depth would have compressed him to the size of a mouse had he ventured outside. With their mission accomplished, the two Mirs headed back to the surface. 

This was the trickiest part: finding the hole in the ice, which in addition to being two-thirds frozen over, had already drifted at least a mile from where it was when they went down. The Arctic icepack is constantly moving, at a rate of six miles or so per day. Sagalevich had to calculate not only the speed of thee ice but also the effect of currents beneath it while manoeuvring the ascending submersibles. 

There were other notable figures aboard the two vessels. The great Polar Scientist Artur Chilingarov, who also happens to be the vice speaker of the Duma -Russia's largely cosmetic parliament- was on Mir-I. With him was an oligarch Vladmir Gruzdev, who has an estimated net worth of over 800 million dollars. He's in the Duma too but had to pay to join the expedition. 

Along for the mission, according to press accounts, were other paying explorers: Swedish businessman Frederik Paulsen; Ibrahim Sharaf, a Sheikh from UAE, and Australian adventurer Mike McDowel, who paid  a reported 3million dollars. The two submersibles were plastered with the logos of eight sponsors, and the Kremlin was 100 percent behind this expedition, in every way except its funding. 

So, see ya all as the suspense of this research from !WOW! gets razor sharp. 

Good Night And God Bless

SAM Daily Times - The Voice Of The Voiceless


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