Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Bob Ballard Searches for Amelia, Seeking Young Explorers

Scientists measure the concentration of bio-microplastics accumulated by mussels and determine the content of pollutants in its tissues. Photo by ©Elodie Bernollin / Tara Ocean Foundation


Where does plastic waste originate? How does it arrive in the ocean? Where should efforts be concentrated to stop the flow of this waste? What impacts do plastics have on marine biodiversity? Recent estimates find that 80% of plastic waste found at sea originates on land.

The Tara Ocean Foundation and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) have been involved in this research since 2010. Mission Microplastics 2019, based on the schooner Tara, is now traveling through several regions in Europe for six months, exploring 10 major European rivers. The journey began last May in Lorient, Morbihan, France, Tara's home port.
In 2014, Tara focused on plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. Then in 2017, the team discovered an important zone of plastic accumulation in the Arctic Ocean, and in 2018, identified the biodiversity associated with microplastics in the north Pacific vortex.

Rain running down roads and gutters into lakes, water flowing in streams and rivers -  are vectors of the plastic waste which eventually winds up in the ocean. Tara will stay close to the coasts, conducting this new investigation to determine the exact origin on land of the plastics found at sea.

An interdisciplinary team of about 40 scientists - marine biologists, ecotoxicologists, oceanographers, mathematicians/modelers, chemists and physicists - will lead this mission. Sampling is planned at the mouth of 10 major rivers in Europe: the Thames (England); the Elbe and Rhine (Germany); the Seine, Loire, Garonne and Rhone (France); the Tagus (Portugal); the Ebro (Spain); the Tiber (Italy).

What they found on the Thames, their first stop, makes us gag. Jean-François Ghiglione, scientific director, reports: 

"Under the microscope, microplastics are present. By the hundreds. Many are microbeads used in cosmetics. There are so-called 'mermaid's tears,' granules that come directly from plastic manufacturers. There's much more plastic than what the team usually observes at sea. Fibers from clothing, expanded polystyrene pellets from food trays, pieces of plastic bags. 

A lollipop stick and some candy packages are the only 'big' garbage collected. Micro plastics (< 5 mm) make up more than 90% of the harvest. The first observation of this mission: most plastics arriving at sea from the Thames are already in the form of micro plastics." 

For more information:

Robert Ballard will bring his proven undersea search strategy and high-tech research vessel, E/V Nautilus, to the hunt for Amelia Earhart. Photo by Emily Shur. 

Bob Ballard Joins Search for Amelia Earhart 

Deep-sea explorer Bob Ballard, who in 1985 made headlines for his discovery of the remains of the Titanic, has announced plans to solve another of history's greatest mysteries: What happened to missing-in-action aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart who disappeared on July 2, 1937. (See EN, April 2007)

Setting sail this month, National Geographic explorer-at-large Ballard and National Geographic Society archeologist-in-residence Fredrik Hiebert will lead a team of Earhart experts, scientists and technicians on a month-long journey that will take them from Samoa to a remote Pacific atoll called Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati. The team is predominantly female.

"We have every piece of technology you can possibly have and we'll be using it as the battle unfolds," Ballard said of the project during the recent National Geographic's Television Critics Association press day in Beverly Hills.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), has sent 13 expeditions to the island, including one with National Geographic that brought forensic dogs to search for Earhart's remains. The dogs homed in on an apparent campsite where a human may have died and decomposed long ago. No bones were found, but soil samples were collected and DNA testing is ongoing.

"I fervently hope the expedition is successful," says Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR's executive director. He considers the Nikumaroro hypothesis long since proven. But, he says, "the public wants a piece of plane."

The project is jointly funded by National Geographic Partners and National Geographic Society. It will be part of a two-hour special titled "Expedition Amelia" that will premiere October 20 on National Geographic.

In the sizzle reel for the broadcast, Ballard says, "... it's not the Loch Ness monster, it's not Bigfoot, that plane exists which means I'm going to find it."

Read more and watch the video here:


Disheartening News About Neil Armstrong

Extensive news coverage surrounding the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing included disheartening news that Neil Armstrong possibly suffered a premature death due to medical malpractice. What's more, controversy has arisen over the family's efforts to sell memorabilia relating to the space hero's celebrated career.

The family of astronaut Neil Armstrong was paid $6 million by a hospital as part of a wrongful death settlement, according to a report in the New York Times.

Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital, outside Cincinnati, reportedly paid the secret settlement in 2014, two years after Armstrong's death in 2012 at age 82. Probate documents confirm the funds were distributed as part of a wrongful death and survival claim.

His family attributed his death to complications from coronary bypass surgery saying at the time, "We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures."

The New York Times reported last month that Armstrong's sons believed that his death was due to incompetent post-surgical care at Mercy Health - Fairfield Hospital and threatened legal action against the hospital.

Although the hospital defended its actions and the care Armstrong received, they ultimately decided to pay out the settlement and avoid a legal battle.

Read the story here:

In a related story, Heritage Auctions of Dallas conducted a three-day sale of Armstrong memorabilia in conjunction with the 50th anniversary. 

The auction netted over $2.4 million, largely through the sale of Armstrong's gold medal, which flew with him to the moon. The 14-karat-gold piece sold for $2.05 million.

Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 Lunar Module-flown 14K-gold Robbins Medal sold for over $2 million. 

Aside from that giant leap, other smaller steps from the auction have included an American flag that flew aboard Apollo 11, which sold for $137,500; Armstrong's personal copy of NASA's "Preliminary Apollo 11 Flight Plan," which went for $112,500; and his own NASA flight suit in the agency's trademark dusty blue, which sold for $81,250.

Read about the auction in ArtNews (July 18):

The auctions were not without criticism, according to a July 27 New York Times story by Scott Shane, Sarah Kliff and Susanne Craig. Numerous auctions netted  $16.7 million in sales by late July.

Some relatives, friends and archivists find the sales unseemly, citing the astronaut's aversion to cashing in on his celebrity and flying career and the loss of historical objects to the public.

"I seriously doubt Neil would approve of selling off his artifacts and memorabilia," said James R. Hansen, his biographer. "He never did any of that in his lifetime."

Countered son Mark Armstrong during a CBS This Morning interview, "You just hope that people get positive energy from these things." He told the New York Times they had "struggled with" what their father might think of the auctions. "Would Dad approve? Let's see what positive things we can do with the proceeds," he said.

Armstrong continues, "I think he would judge us not on whether we auctioned items or not, but rather what we do with the proceeds and how we conduct our lives. Dad said that he wanted to leave the world a better place than he found it. I intend to follow his example and teach my children to do the same."

He and his wife, Wendy, said they were using auction proceeds to create an environmental nonprofit in honor of Mark's parents, called Vantage Earth, that Wendy said would work "to preserve and protect the earth from the damage done to it by its own population ­- a concern raised by Neil upon looking back at the earth from the moon."

Read the Times story here:

USS Grunion Bow Section

Bow of a World War II Submarine Discovered Off Aleutians  

The bow of WWII Submarine USS Grunion (SS-216) has been discovered in 2,700 feet of water off the Aleutian Islands by a team pioneering robotic ocean exploration. The ongoing WWII submarine discoveries lead by ocean explorer Tim Taylor are applying comprehensive 3D imaging pioneering a new frontier in ocean exploration.

The historic discovery was made utilizing a combination of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV's) and advanced photogrammetry imaging. These ground-breaking new technologies and methods are at the forefront of underwater business technology and are forging a new frontier in subsea exploration.

The finding of the lost bow section of the USS Grunion completes a vital missing part of the puzzle and answers the questions posed on many expeditions undertaken 13 years ago by John, Bruce and Brad Abele, sons of the USS Grunion captain, Mannert L. Abele, USNA class of 1926.

USS Grunion was a Gato-class submarine commissioned on April 11, 1942. On her way through the Caribbean to her first posting in Pearl Harbor, she rescued 16 survivors from USAT Jack, which had been torpedoed by a U-boat. Her first war patrol was, unfortunately, her last. Sent to the Aleutian Islands in June 1942, she operated off Kiska, Alaska, where she sank two Japanese patrol boats.

Ordered back to the naval operating base in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on July 30, the submarine was never heard from again. She was declared overdue from patrol and assumed lost with all hands on October 5, 1942. She is the final resting place for 70 sailors.

The project is taking the large data sets collected on their discoveries and having them processed into 3D archeological photogrammetry models. This scientific approach extracts geometric information from equipment that is already integrated in most of the modern underwater remote filming systems, advancing imagery collection into high-quality 3D data sets that will be used in archeological research, historical archives, virtual and augmented reality, and educational programs and applications.

"This goes so far past video or still imagery, it truly is the future of recording historical underwater discoveries. Spending minimal time on site collecting a comprehensive 3D historical baseline model allows archaeologists and historians to spend months back home performing detailed research," states Taylor who coordinates his discoveries with the Naval History and Heritage Command.

The USS Grunion Expedition is part of the ongoing Lost 52 Project supported in part by STEP Ventures and has been recognized by JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) as the first and most comprehensive offshore underwater archaeological expedition in Japanese waters.

This expedition marks the fourth WWII Submarine discovery by Tim Taylor, CEO of Tiburon Subsea and founder of Ocean Outreach, Inc., based in New York.

For more information:

Watch a video of the discovery here:


"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

- William Shakespeare's tragedy Troilus and Cressida, Act III, Scene iii - Ulysses speaking to Achilles. 

Rangers Without Borders Studies Eastern Europe Wildlife Protectors 

Rangers Without Borders, led by Joshua Powell of London, recently completed the first-ever comprehensive study of the work of wildlife rangers in Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan, as part of a program of scientific expeditions across Central Asia, the Caucasus region and Eastern Europe.

The conservation research program, funded by National Geographic and donations from members of The Explorers Club, organizes its research around three main themes vital to the effectiveness of wildlife rangers: ranger livelihoods, equipment and training; poaching threat and anti-poaching capability; and trans-boundary cooperation. It uses this research to provide free, impact-driven, consulting services for ranger forces.

Outside of the global focus on the work of wildlife rangers in Africa, rangers in the Eurasia region work in a range of challenging and varied environments, with species that are equally charismatic and important for global conservation. 

Sites of particular interest included Hirkan National Park on the Azerbaijan-Iran border and refuge for the Caucasian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) and Sarychat-Ertash State Nature Reserve in the military border zone between Kyrgyzstan and China, which is thought to be significant for snow leopard (Panthera uncia) and where there was documented examples of snow leopard poaching in the 1990's.
Rangers Without Border's Caucasus expedition team (left to right: Elizabeth Streeter, Joshua Powell (Expedition Leader), Peter Coals, Afag Rizayeva, Laurie Hills). The entire team is under 30. Photo credit - Elizabeth Streeter/Rangers Without Borders

Powell, 25, was part of the original Adventure Canada-The Explorers Club Young Explorers program in 2016, as was cameraman Aleksandr Rikhterman, 27, and credits The Explorers Club's NGEN (Next Generation Exploration Network) group and board member Milbry Polk as being a significant source of inspiration and support for Rangers Without Borders (see related story).

Indeed, the whole team is under 30 and Powell says this was an important aspect of the program's development, describing a personal desire to offer opportunities to young conservationists. Powell has become a member of the Queen's Young Leaders community, representing the UK, for his work to lead Rangers Without Borders and was recently named the Scientific Exploration Society's Explorer of the Year for Inspiration & Scientific Trail-blazing (2019).

To find out more, use the hashtag #RangersWithoutBorders on all social media platforms, or visit


Every summer at least 20,000 people attempt the 15,776-foot summit of Mont Blanc. The majority spend a night in the Gouter Refuge on the French side.

A Safety Tunnel for Mont Blanc?

The Gouter Refuge - a futuristic structure that clings to a cliff at 12,516 feet - is, for many people, the final stop en route to the top of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, straddling the border between France and Italy, according to a New York Timesstory by Paige McClanahan (July 26).

Every summer at least 20,000 people attempt the 15,776-foot summit. The majority spend a night in the Gouter Refuge, on the French side, which welcomes climbers from late May through September. Local officials and guides say the number is growing, and that today's climbers are less experienced, even as warmer temperatures are increasing the risk of rockfall and transforming once-snowy ridges into treacherous sheets of ice. A small number of climbers also appear to be unwilling to respect the rules - or even pay for their accommodation.

More than half a dozen routes lead to Mont Blanc's summit, but just two - the Three Mountains Route, which starts from Chamonix, and the Normal Route, which starts from the neighboring community of Saint-Gervais - are accessible to climbers with only a moderate amount of experience. While the majority return from the summit unscathed, both itineraries entail risk.

The Normal Route - chosen by about three quarters of the climbers aiming for the summit - goes across the Grand Couloir, a steep, narrow gully that acts as a sort of bowling alley for falling rocks. Near the top, the path leads onto a narrow ridge of snow and ice, about 100 yards long and just a couple of feet wide, that's flanked by steep drops. If you stumble there, you can fall to your death, according to writer Paige McClanahan of the Times. 

Alternatively, the Three Mountains Route, a more technical itinerary that accounts for most of the remaining quarter of climbers, goes below a series of towering ice cliffs that occasionally - and very unpredictably - slough off enormous quantities of snow and ice onto the path below. Both routes are threatened with avalanches, and both cross glaciers laced with crevasses: yawning gaps in the ice that can swallow climbers whole.

The Three Mountains Route has become steeper and icier, while rockfall in the Grand Couloir on the Normal Route, is becoming more frequent and voluminous, especially in the afternoon. The Petzl Foundation once proposed building a small tunnel to protect people crossing the gully, but the suggestion was opposed by many guides and local authorities. This is a wild landscape, not an amusement park, opponents said. Signs have been erected along the route to warn people of the risk, but many still choose to cross the gully at the most dangerous time of day.

The peak time for rockfall is also the peak time for people crossing the couloir.

Read the story here:

Ricardo Pena of is a mountaineer based in Colorado who recently  climbed the Three Mountains Route, which he found more technical than the guidebooks suggest, then descended via the Normal Route to the Gouter hut (pictured above).

When asked for comment on those who attempt Mont Blanc without the necessary experience, he tells EN, "Personally, I would vote in favor of a tunnel or changing the route to avoid that Grand Couloir even if it means adding a new via ferrata (a protected climbing route).

"It is a total gamble with your life. It is very dangerous and it doesn't seem to be a matter of crossing at certain hours to be safe anymore. Guides are risking their lives, even more than everyone else since they have to do it so often. I'm normally in favor of climbing all mountains in their natural state and by your own means as much as possible, but this is one case where I think it is a good idea to build a tunnel or do something to avoid that ridiculously dangerous couloir. Especially considering how many people attempt this peak each year.

"The mountain is definitely getting more dangerous and it's true more and more inexperienced people are coming making for a very dangerous situation," Pena said.


Apply for the Adventure Canada-Explorers Club Young Explorers Program

By Milbry Polk
Special to Expedition News

In 2016, The Explorers Club and Adventure Canada launched the Adventure Canada-Explorers Club Young Explorers Program. As of this summer the program has 35 outstanding graduates of the program run by Stefan Kindberg and myself of The Explorers Club, and Cedar Bradley Swan of Adventure Canada. 

The purpose of the Young Explorers Program is to encourage and facilitate the spirit of exploration through the pursuit of science, cultural studies, art and conservation. The program aims to encourage personal growth for young people age 20 to 30 who will benefit from direct experience, academic study and cultural exchange in the North. It is our hope that the Alumni will be leaders of next generation explorers.

Each Young Explorer participant has a project to be completed during a selected Adventure Canada Expedition Cruise. To date some of the projects have included assessing emergency medical response, traditional boat building, profiles of Inuit carvers, fishing, traditional storytelling, poetry, seaweed surveys, plastics, geology, robotics, and climate policy.

This work has resulted in films, PowerPoint presentations, podcasts, cook books, art shows and reports. Some of the graduates have gone on to become Emerging Explorers at National Geographic, some have won prestigious awards based on the work they began in the Arctic, others have created new programs based on what they learned.

All graduates present their work at the Explorers Club Polar Film Festival held in New York in January. They also join The Explorers Club NGen, a core group of younger members.

For more information on the graduates and their projects visit the website built by graduates Trevor Wallace and Brianna Rowe:

Applications for the 2020 season will be available in late Fall 2019 through


Jelle Veyt 

Watch POV Footage of Everest 2015 Avalanche           

Belgian adventurer Jelle Veyt shows what it was like to be in an avalanche at Everest Base Camp in 2015. The horrifying footage was shot following the earthquake that year on the mountain that killed almost 20 people.

As a former street kid Jelle and his sponsors Vayamundo and Secutec are funding different projects in the world for him to undertake.

This month he will start on a cycling expedition from Belgium to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, a journey of 10,000-plus miles using only human power. By July 2020 he expects to start the Kili climb - part of a bigger project he calls  Human Powered 7 Summits of Happiness.

View the video at:


What are the Odds of Dying While Mountain Climbing?

Carl Schuster of New York writes to comment on Chuck Patton's story in the July 2019 issue of EN wherein Patton believes, "Non-climbers or amateur climbers may think climbing to be a way to fame and fortune. Can you name one person who died on Everest last year? Climbing does not earn notoriety by itself; only by spectacular death or achieving one of those dwindling 'firsts' will a climber get recognized, and fortunes are not made that way."

Schuster opines, "Chuck, you have solved a 78 year old mystery! '... your mind must stay focused on five minutes ahead and less than 30 seconds behind.' The most succinct, precise and profound piece of self awareness. I've been trying from the beginning to understand this. Now I do."


Travel With Purpose: A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld ­- How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools. Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey. 

Read a review here:

Available now on Amazon. Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at:

Get Sponsored! - Hundreds of explorers and adventurers raise money each month to travel on world class expeditions to Mt. Everest, Nepal, Antarctica and elsewhere. Now the techniques they use to pay for their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the book from Skyhorse Publishing called: Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers.

Author Jeff Blumenfeld, an adventure marketing specialist who has represented 3M, Coleman, Du Pont, Lands' End and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd.,  Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2019 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at 

Sunday, July 7, 2019


The World Pauses to Remember the First Moon Landing
Welcome to the first Special Edition of Expedition News in our almost 25-year history. When it comes right down to it, what exploration was more momentous than man's first moon landing?
We are of a certain age that we remember watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin live during a July 1969 broadcast of the first Moon landing. It was 10:56 p.m. ET on July 20, 1969, when Armstrong uttered one of the most famous quotes in human history: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Although a grainy image viewed on a black and white television during our summer course at SUNY Geneseo near Rochester, it nonetheless was an inspiration for our then budding interest in exploration. 
Expect to see numerous stories in the media later this month commemorating this audacious 8-day feat for mankind. What we like to focus on in EN are some of the sidebar stories that perhaps won't get as much attention later this month. 
As we anticipate NASA's projected manned mission to the Moon in 2024 (with a planned sustainable human presence there by 2028), let's consider some facts about the 50th anniversary you might not read elsewhere. 
The Apollo 11 landing site, as imaged by the LROC camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, decades after the first Moon landing.

Say Cheese

The Moon landing sites continue to be monitored by NASA's long-lived Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) since it entered into orbit around the Moon in June 2009. 
According to Leonard David's Moon Rush (National Geographic, 2019), "High- resolution imagery of the six landing spots, from Apollo 11's 1969 landing to Apollo 17 in 1972, reveals the lunar module descent stages sitting on the Moon's surface, left behind by the departing astronauts, as well as lunar surface experiment packages and parked rovers. Faint trails of the astronauts' footprints show up, including observable tracks from the last three Apollo landing excursions as those crews rolled across the Moon's surface in their rovers."
An effort is underway to preserve the landing sites, including the artifacts left behind by Apollo 11 astronauts: a mission patch to commemorate the lives of astronauts lost in a 1967 pad fire; boot coverings; food wrappers; a hammer; urine and defecation collection devices; and those momentous first boot prints, according to David's book. 
Tranquility Base and the other landing sites are historic landmarks. The concern is that subsequent robotic and manned spacecraft to the Moon could cause significant damage to this lunar legacy. Rocket exhaust plumes, for example, might blast away the celebrated footprints and rover tracks. 
"There has never been historic preservation off our planet. It's a really difficult subject," says Michelle Hanlon, a law professor and space law expert at the University of Mississippi who co-founded For All Moonkind, Inc., a nonprofit group devoted to protecting historic sites in space. (

The USGS geologist Joe O'Connor wears an early version of the Apollo spacesuit during testing in the fall of 1965, at Apollo mesa dike in the Hopi Buttes volcanic field in Arizona. This rarely seen image was too good not to share. (USGS photo). 

*            When Arizona Stood in for the Moon
Throughout the 1960s, NASA scientists and technicians worked relentlessly to train their astronauts for the Apollo missions to come. Locations throughout Arizona were selected by the United States Geological Survey's new astrogeology branch to serve as lunar analogues-the Moon right here at home. Arizona had plenty of existing craters, exposed canyons, volcanic cinder cones, and lava fields to test NASA's people, suits, vehicles, and equipment. And to make things even more lunar, a field north of Flagstaff was loaded with explosives and blown to bits to create a cratered landscape complete with ejecta, the underlying rock excavated and flung onto the surface by the simulated meteor impacts.
Read the story in The Atlantic, June 20, 2019:
*            Party Like It's 1969 in Washington, D.C. 
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum plans a "The Eagle Has Landed" Late-Night Celebration on July 20 from 8 p.m. top 2 a.m. It will include a rebroadcast of the Moon landing and first steps, Apollo 11-themed music, a Spacesuit Fashion Show  and stargazing. Best of all, it's free. 
Thanks in part to a Kickstarter campaign, Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit goes back on display on July 16 for the first time in 13 years. 
Learn more here:
Travel to Seattle to see the Real McCoy
*            Lunar Block Party in Seattle 
The Museum of Flight in Seattle is hosting a Lunar Block Party, July 19-21. Somewhat incongruously, it features American Idol Live in Concert with winner Laine Hardy, runner-up Alejandro Aranda and the 2019 finalists; a Beatles tribute band; and 1969 themed games. 
We'll skip those and focus instead on the command module Columbia - the actual spacecraft from the first Moon landing mission. The exhibit features a 3-D tour of the module's interior made with high resolution scans from the Smithsonian.

"This is the not the first time Columbia has traveled the country. In 1970, NASA organized a tour that took Columbia to each of the 50 states," explains Michael Neufeld, senior curator for space history at the National Air and Space Museum.

Learn more at:
Restored Mission Control Console 
*            Apollo Mission Control Center Restored in Houston 
Space Center Houston and Johnson Space Center debuted a totally restored Apollo Mission Control Center. This is the facility where NASA monitored nine Gemini and all Apollo lunar missions, including the historic Apollo 11 trip to the Moon and the final Apollo 17 trip to the same lunar body. It is located in Building 30 of NASA Johnson Space Center.

To make it look exactly like it appeared in the 1960s, the museum hand-stamped the ceiling tiles with original patterns, ordered a period-appropriate coffee pot on eBay, restored the flip tops of ashtrays with 3-D printers, and returned flight control consoles to their original Apollo configuration.   
Learn more about the restoration here:
*            Cosmic Birth 
Cosmic Birth is an upcoming 2019 Icelandic documentary film about mankind's journey to the Moon and the experience of viewing the Earth from a quarter of a million miles away. The film also looks into the role that Iceland played, along with other locations around the world, in the training of the Apollo astronauts for the first manned missions. 

The documentary will be released simultaneously in cinemas and on TV in Iceland on July 20, 2019, in celebration of the 50th anniversary. An event commemorating the historic significance of Apollo 11 will take place in the documentary cinema Bíó Paradís in Reykjavík before the premiere of the film.

Cosmic Birth is written and directed by Exploration Museum founder Örlygur Hnefill Örlygsson and filmmaker and musician Rafnar Orri Gunnarsson with original score by Andri Freyr Arnarsson and Óskar Andri Ólafsson. Expedition News makes a brief cameo. 

Watch the trailer here:


This Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph sells for an astronomical $5,350. 

*            Prices Take off for Omega Moonwatch 

As nostalgia for the Apollo 11 mission builds, prices for the most sought-after vintage Speedmasters have taken a trip into orbit, fueled by a booming market for vintage watches and a cult following on social media (see #SpeedyTuesday), according to the New York Times (June 5)

According to writer Alex Williams, at a Phillips Geneva auction last year, a first-generation Speedmaster from 1958 sold for nearly $410,000, a price typically associated with the finer vintage Rolex Daytonas.


Part of the draw is Speedmaster's no-nonsense, action-watch heritage. With its minimalist black dial recalling an old Porsche speedometer, the chronograph oozes stealth-wealth allure, according to the Times story.

Read the story here:

*            Own a Small Piece of the Apollo 11 Command Module

And we do mean small. Mini Museum is offering a fragment of mission-flown Kapton foil which provided thermal protection for the astronauts aboard the Apollo 11 Command Module. The specimen measures approximately 1mm x 1mm and is enclosed in an acrylic cube with a magnified lid for easy viewing. Perhaps a free microscope would have been better.

Upon the return of Apollo 11, sections of the Kapton foil were removed from the Command Module and affixed to acrylic squares for presentation purposes. These acrylic squares were also presented to certain NASA employees, including Production Control Engineer W.R. Whipkey. Whipkey received this foil in 1969 and it remained in his possession until purchased for use by the Mini Museum in late 2017 at public auction.

Started via Kickstarter in 2014, Mini Museums are micro-sized versions of full-size museums dedicated to curating artifacts of cultural, historical, and scientific importance. Rather than marble halls, the collection of specimens are arranged inside transparent plastic in a form small enough keep on a desktop.

Buy it here:

Warhol's phallic Moon Museum image is in the upper left corner. 

*            Warhol Sneaks Penis Image Onto the Moon

In another little known fact we unearthed while researching EN's first Special Edition is the Moon Museum, not to be confused with the aforementioned Mini Museum.

Moon Museum is a small ceramic wafer three-quarters of an inch by half an inch in size, containing artworks by six prominent artists from the late 1960s and placed on Apollo 12. The artists with works in the "museum" are Robert RauschenbergDavid NovrosJohn ChamberlainClaes OldenburgForrest Myers and Andy Warhol.

Warhol created a stylized version of his initials which, when viewed at certain angles, can appear as a rocket ship or a penis. "He was being the terrible bad boy," said fellow wafer artist Forrest Myers in an interview.

*            Armstrong Spacesuit Zip-Hoodie

There's no shortage of 50th anniversary memorabilia. If a tiny flown piece of Apollo 11 doesn't interest you, geek out in this 50th Anniversary 3D Armstrong space suit Zip Hoodie for just $48. Order it here:
Martha Stewart experiences weightlessness with ZERO-G.
*            Fly With an Astronaut on the Vomit Comet 
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) will partner with Space Florida to take space fans on two weightless flights on July 20, 2019. Departure point is Space Florida's Launch and Landing Facility (formerly the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility) at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. 
Flyers will float effortlessly alongside former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.
The anniversary flight in a specially modified Boeing 727 will demonstrate the feeling of exploring the Moon's surface by recreating lunar gravity and allowing participants to float with the ease of carrying one-sixth their normal body weight.

ZERO-G pilots will perform a series of parabolic arcs for 90 to 100 minutes while flying in FAA-designated airspace. At the top of each arc, participants will soar through the plane in a floating playground, and perform effortless tricks and flips. The flight will also include several zero gravity and Martian gravity parabolas.

To avoid motion sickness, Dramamine and Meclizine are most commonly used by flyers. It also probably helps not to scarf down a 1200-calorie Chipotle burrito beforehand. 

The cost to participate on one of the anniversary flights is $6,000. For ticket and flight information, visit (

Black Toilet Paper and Other "Innovations" Come to Outdoor Retailer Show 
Three times a year the outdoor industry convenes in Denver for the four-day Outdoor Retailer trade show and conference. In June, over 25,000 industry professionals packed the Colorado Convention Center to learn what's new in outdoor gear, much of it a mainstay of exploration, from 1,400 exhibiting brands. It's the largest trade show of the year in the 584,000 facility. Ever since the show started in the early 1980s, we've been trolling its aisles looking for unusual products to take outdoors. This year's trade show didn't disappoint. 
*            Wearable Fan Looks Like Headphones
The W Fan is a wearable dual-headed fan that looks like a pair of headphones around your neck, but instead of speakers there are two adjustable five-bladed fans that run on rechargeable lithium batteries and provide a constant cooling breeze. Adjustable fan heads turn in any direction. The company says its perfect for sports, camping or menopausal women. ($35,
*            When Dinner is Done, Burn the Grill 
This eco-friendly, disposable biodegradable grill uses a natural bamboo grate instead of metal, plus cardboard, lava stone, and bamboo charcoal cakes that are easy to light without the need for any lighter fluids. The manufacturers says it can maintain 60-plus minutes at 600 degrees F. When finished, throw it into a campfire or bury it. Ingenious. ($19.95,


*            PowerWatch Runs on Body Heat 

The jury is still out on the world's first smartwatch powered by body heat. At the core of every Matrix PowerWatch is a thermoelectric generator that captures body heat to power up. No charging is required. Not sure if this is the best choice for polar exploration. Clever, but you'll have to try it for yourself. (starts at $199,


*            Black Towelettes Help You Hide in the Woods

One slightly creepy product on display were Combat Wipes Commando bio-degradable outdoor cleansing and refreshing wipes. What separates these moist towelettes from, say your everyday Huggies Baby Wipes is the color - it comes in black for "ultimate camoflauge." 

The manufacturer says it's for "anyone experiencing the outdoors who does not have access to a shower or fresh water, yet wants to stay clean, refreshed and environmentally conscious." Although the color choice is somewhat icky, it's for those who are hunting, on night photo safaris, or on an outdoor mission and need a camo-wet wipe. ($7.20 per 25-sheet pack,

"You've been trying not to pee in your pants your whole life."
- Retired astronaut Scott Kelly, who wore a diaper for liftoff and landing on all four of his space missions wherein he spent a total of 520 days in space. Kelly later said that after returning from his final, 340-day mission, he suffered nausea, fatigue, swelling, muscle and joint soreness, hives and rashes. 

Of his return to earth, he said, "You suddenly have a million choices, and it's confusing. It's probably very similar to what it feels like to be released from prison."  Source: May 5 New York Times Magazine interview by Malia Wollan. 
What are the Odds of Dying While Mountain Climbing?
By Chuck Patton
Special to Expedition News
I wish I could climb like Edmund Hillary, write like Jon Krakauer, or explore undiscovered parts of the world, and survive as Shackleton did. I have sampled their worlds and, in so doing, gained a healthy respect for their achievements. Few explorers reach the pinnacle of public esteem that these men have achieved and those few who do, have done so with great peril and the luck of the gods. Only a few climbers have attained true notoriety. The vast majority climb in obscurity unless they achieve the kind of notoriety they didn't seek - by dying in the process.
The chances of dying on Everest are between 1 in 15 including Sherpas, or 1 in 23 excluding Sherpas. The chance of dying on Denali is 1 in 78. The chances of dying on Kilimanjaro is 1 in 3,333, obviously a much safer mountain but still, 9 to 10 people die on it each year and 1,000 need to be evacuated. The overall chance of succeeding at summiting on K2 is 22% while on Kilimanjaro it is 75%. The average chance of summiting for the top six mountains is 60%. The chance of dying on the other mountains in Nepal ranges from 1 in 3 on Nanga Parbat to 1 in 18 on Manaslu.
Would you accept those odds? Seeing that the risk of mountain climbing is so high, this raises the age-old question, why do climbers climb? I have a sense of the rationale from my own very limited experience and from knowing some serious climbers, like Dick Bass (first to climb the Seven Summits and one of the authors of the book with that title) and a Sherpa working on Mt. Rainier in the summer.
In my opinion, climbers don't climb because "It's there." They don't climb because they have a death wish. They are not crazy or even misguided. They are adventurers that's for sure. Each has his or her reasons and, I imagine, there are a few who haven't thought about why they climb at all.
Climbers may climb because they would rather die doing something challenging than living a long life of "quiet desperation." Others may climb in search of "Flow," that mesmerizing state where your mind must stay focused on five minutes ahead and less than 30 seconds behind.
Some may climb because they like the satisfaction of achieving something most others haven't, won't or can't. Perhaps they climb to satisfy that human desire to be different, to be special, to be respected, to be unique. Even if it is only by a small community of other like-minded people. And being around people who relate to climbing is another reason. Maybe they "want to be somebody" or hang-out with like-minded friends.
Non-climbers or amateur climbers may think climbing to be a way to fame and fortune. Can you name one person who died on Everest last year? Climbing does not earn notoriety by itself; only by spectacular death or achieving one of those dwindling "Firsts" will a climber get recognized, and fortunes are not made that way.
The odds of becoming rich and famous are much smaller than the odds of dying. Jon Krakauer is the only one I know who made a lot of money, but more so because he is a great writer and less so because of his fame as a climber.
Every climber reaches their limit by quitting or dying. Four people died on Rainier while I was there, including two experienced rescue climbers. No one is exempt, on any mountain, from the possibility of a random trip and fall, avalanche, cascading rock, deep snow-covered crevasse, altitude sickness, or who knows what.
I reached my limit coming down from Kilimanjaro - not my physical limit but my "why am I doing this?" limit. After a nice accomplishment I had to ask myself "what's next?" Start training for Everest? Knock off Denali or a couple of highest continental trophies like Aconcagua or Mount Elbrus?
In considering if more climbing was in my future, I was smart enough to realize that, from my perspective, more climbing wasn't the right next step for me. The highest and best use of my time on earth, I concluded, was to start a business. Next time you think of climbing a mountain, figure your odds and act accordingly.
Charles Patton, 76, summited Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, and Mount Santis in Switzerland. He is a resident of Orlando, where he is Senior Vice President - Business Development for VacayHome Connect, a vacation accommodation distribution company based in Chicago. He can be reached at
Climbing Everest Looks Like the Line at Trader Joe's

Comedian John Oliver, who hosts Last Week Tonight on HBO, examines May's Everest mess in a 22-minute humorous tirade on June 23. Claiming that climbing Everest looks like the line at Trader Joe's, he calls Everest a fecal time bomb and mocks stunts like the world's highest cellphone call. 

Join the over five million who have already viewed the video and watch it here: 


Skydiving, Mountain Climbing and Other Ways Execs Terrify Their Shareholders

"For companies, trying to curb top executives who are prized for walking the knife edge between calculated risk and recklessness is a dilemma. Tell them to stop flying airplanes, racing cars, horse jumping, skydiving, smoking, running with bulls or bungee jumping and they could leave. Let them go along their merry way, and you might lose them another way," writes John D. Stoll in the Wall Street Journal (June 22).

Micron Technology chief Steve Appleton's fatal crash in 2012 while piloting an experimental plane prompted a discussion in boardrooms about whether daredevil CEOs are worth the risk.

"Boards have to consider whether the same thing that made that person a successful CEO, for instance, also led them to engage in highly risky hobbies," said David Larcker, a professor who leads Stanford Graduate School's corporate governance research initiative. But, as Mr. Larcker has written, succession plans and disclosures may need bolstering if a key manager likes to live dangerously.

Larcker says that no matter how many safeguards are in place, companies can't entirely police their senior leaders. "How deep do you want to get into someone's private life?" he asks.

Andy Wirth's near-death skydiving accident occurred about three years into his run as CEO of resort operator Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. Wirth came into the job as a risk-taker, having spent time rappelling off cliffs and skiing treacherous slopes.

His partners were aware of his plane-jumping tendencies. He had trained for certifications and took precautions, according to Stoll's Journal story. But nothing could prepare the company for an accident that ripped off Mr. Wirth's arm and required 25 operations over 50 hours and a substantial hiatus.

Read the article here:

Earthrise 1: Historic Image Remastered. Image Credit: NASA, Apollo 8 Crew, Bill Anders; Processing and License: Jim Weigang. Little known fact: In 1966, Lunar Orbiter 1 took a picture of Earthrise two years before William Anders took this more famous image.

The Overview Effect
A cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. In one instance, a single photograph of Earth taken from space by Williams Anders, on Apollo 8, in 1968, served as an icon for the entire environmental movement. 

People who have seen the Earth from space, not in a photograph but in real life, pretty much all report the same thing. "You spend even a little time contemplating the Earth from orbit and the most deeply ingrained nationalisms begin to erode," said Carl Sagan. "They seem the squabbles of mites on a plum." Source: New York Times Book Review, June 23, 2019.


Travel With Purpose: A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld ­- How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools. Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey. 

Read the latest review here:

Available now on Amazon. Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at:

Get Sponsored! - Hundreds of explorers and adventurers raise money each month to travel on world class expeditions to Mt. Everest, Nepal, Antarctica and elsewhere. Now the techniques they use to pay for their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the book from Skyhorse Publishing called: Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers.
Author Jeff Blumenfeld, an adventure marketing specialist who has represented 3M, Coleman, Du Pont, Lands' End and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:
EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd.,  Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2019 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at