Meteorite Hunters Part II: The Search for Greenland's Mysterious Meteor; November 1998; Scientific American Magazine; by Gibbs; 8 Page(s)
The astonishing news came via satellite phone, at about 8 P.M., recalled astronomer Lars Lindberg Christensen. He, the four other Danes and the two Greenlanders on the expedition team had just finished a late dinner and were sitting in the communal dome tent, killing time. Time was gnawing back. For seven days, their search for any remnants of the Kangilia meteor had been halted as voices on the other end of the phone repeated variations on the same maddening message: "Stand by.... The helicopter is grounded in Kangerlussuaq by fog.... It¿s socked in at Paamiut.... It was forced back to Nuuk by the threat of whiteout . . .. Wait just a few more hours . . .." Meanwhile the campsite--built on snow that was not even supposed to be on the ice cap this far into Greenland¿s brief summer--was dissolving into an icy swamp. It was beyond time to move onto the dry, rocky peak of a nunatak and to get on with the hunt.
But now the voice on the phone had good news, incredible news. A television station in Nuuk was reporting that a game warden had found the meteorite. Sailing around the fractal labyrinth of island-dotted coves near Qeqertarsuatsiaat, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of camp, the ranger had seen four craters freshly carved from the coastal foothills. Dark rocks lay inside. "It was an intense moment," Christensen recounted the next morning. "Everyone was so excited. We must have burned an hour of satellite time tracking down the guy and arranging for him to guide us to the site." More good news followed: the weather system that had paralyzed the team was breaking up at last. The helicopter would pick them up shortly after dawn to go inspect the craters.