The Italian Almanac

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North Pole

Italian Science - July 7

Italian scientists have for the first time sailed above the North Pole in a perfect circle to glean precious new information on the unique magnetic forces it exerts. The path-finding trip over the Arctic Ocean, Norway, Greenland, Canada, Alaska, northern Siberia and Scandinavia took two weeks.

The scientists took their measurements in a hi-tech airship hanging under an enormous stratospheric balloon dubbed PEGASO (Polar Explorer for Geomagnetism And other Scientific Observations) - the Italian name for the mythical winged horse Pegasus.

"The information we obtained will enable us to better define the geomagnetic anomalies of the polar region," said Silvia Masi of Rome University. "The balloon is able to pick up geomagnetic waves that cannot be detected by satellite, while it would be too expensive to map them on the ground".

PEGASO, which was created by La Sapienza technicians working with the Italian Space Agency, also enabled Norwegian students to gauge the distribution of high-energy particles above the Pole.