Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Sept. 22, 2015

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Russian airline goes silent about fate of plane at N. Pole
The fate of a Russian plane carrying tourists that crash landed near the North Pole in April remains unknown as the airline, Shar Ink, has stopped responding to inquires about its promise to remove the aircraft this summer. The Antonov 74 plane suffered damage to its undercarriage during the incident, the cause of which has not been publicly disclosed. The airline stated in June the plane would be retrieved with an icebreaker “sometime in August.” If the airline failed to live up to that promise the plane may have fallen into the sea as the ice drifted southward, but there have been no observations by any persons or equipment monitoring the area. Sebastian Gerland, head of the ocean and sea ice section at the Norwegian Polar Institute, said buoys he deployed in roughly the same area as the crash site are now at 85 degrees latitude north and far from the ice edge, but the plane may have drifted to a completely different area.

Sun’s getting lazy, but won’t dim the Northern Lights  
The sun is moving away from a period of peak solar activity, but that be anything but dim news for those hoping to see and profit from the Northern Lights in Svalbard, experts today a group of Longyearbyen tourism businesses during a seminar this week. “If you look at the graphs, the Northern Lights are to be at their best a few years after the solar maximum,” said Pål Brekke, a solar researcher at the Norwegian Space Centre. “In principle, we have some very good years ahead of us.” The seminar, hosted by Visit Svalbard with assistance from Visit Tromsø, was to highlight the unique aspects of auroral activity in the archipelago, such as being the only place in Norway they can be seen during the day, to help boost dark season tourism.

Bishop visiting Svalbard
is making his first official visit to Svalbard this week. In addition to meeting with local leaders, he will attend a presentation at Longyearbyen’s cemetery at noon Saturday and preside over Mass at Svalbard Church at 11 a.m. Sunday.

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