This time Utima Thule will be travelling on a parallel to the equator, 80º to the North. From East to West, from Arctic Canada to Arctic Siberia.
Axel Heiberg Island and Ellesmere Island, in Arctic Canada; northernmost Greenland, east and west; the Norwegian Svalbard Islands; Franz Josef and Severnaya Zemlya archipelagos, on the Siberian Arctic waters.
Let's start in Axel Heiberg, one of the northernmost islands of the Arctic Archipelago of Canada. The arctic desert terrain was chosen as a good approach to Mars surface and adequate for tests and training in similar conditions. So, NASA installed a base there - the MARS station ("McGill Arctic Research Station"), near the 80º N latitude.
Next, in Ellesmere Island, the largest and northernmost island of the same Canadian Archipelago.
At 80º N, the most remarkable place is probably the station Eureka, a permanent base for military and weather studies founded in 1947.
Let's move eastwards, through Nares Strait. Next stop at Greenland, to meet the Humboldt Glacier (or Sermersuaq, in inuit), the widest tidewater glacier in the Northern Hemisphere:
Its front is 110 km wide, bordering the Kane Basin in North West Greenland.
Station Nord, 81º N
Just 1 degree north of 80º, the danish Station Nord is one of the coldest research stations on earth, on the remote northeast Greenlandic coast:
Now we cross the North Atlantic to the European (Norwegian) Svalbard Archipelago. The 80th parallel hardly touches the northern tip of the islands.
The nearest settlement is Ny Ålesund, to the south at 79º N, a station several times highlighted here at U.T.:
But also in Svalbard there is another reddish ground where NASA is testing for the Mars expedition: the Bockfjorden and the surrounding red sandstone mountains.
Bockfjorden, at 80ºN, is an intriguing place where hot meets cold. The ice sheet is gone, dry and cold environment coexist, hot springs still simmer, exhaling gases from Earth's mantle. Shaped by volcanism, ice, and liquid water, the place reminds of how Mars might have once been.
AMASE expedition testing a robot.
These very very remote islands are mostly north of the 80th parallel, far from the Siberian Arctic coast. Bell island is on the spot, exactly at 80º.
Nagurskoye, Alexandra Land island.
Cape Tegettoff, Hall Island, 80º N
Severnaya Zemlya is still more isolated, south of nowhere. Perfect for some misanthrope to build a hut far from any civilization, up in the Russian high Arctic. Surely there is a station, a meteorological station, at Golomyanniy, 79º 33' N, on Sredniy Island, where Russia is building a larger military base.
The station at Golomyanniy works since 1954.
Surprisingly, animals - some of them quite large ! - live at this latitude:
Why not end as I began, with an 80º N arctic flower?