The European Science Foundation, through the European Polar Board, is the official coordinator of the ERICON AURORA BOREALIS (European Research Ice Breaker Consortium), a project supported under EC FP7 as part of the implementation of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap projects. This 4.5 million Euros project will focus on the strategic, management, legal and financial aspects of implementing this large scale research facility and involves 15 partners from 10 countries over four years.

AURORA BOREALIS will be a novel research icebreaker with no national or international competitor because of its drilling capability, its sophisticated modularized mobile laboratory systems allowing mission-specific laboratory selections, its moon pools for drilling and for the deployment of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) for sub ice surveys, its propulsion and dynamic positioning systems and its capability for polar expeditions into high latitude ice-covered deep-sea basins also during the unfavourable seasons of the year.

This unique facility addresses two scientific communities, which in part overlap and in part have divergent interests. The first one is the general polar science community, which requires a research vessel for conducting its field and sea work throughout all seasons of the year. The other is the deep-sea drilling community, which would use the ship mainly during the summer months to study the structure and properties of oceanic crust and the history of the oceanic depositional environments. This has never been done in the permanently ice-infested waters of the Arctic.

To develop this science plan, the European Polar Board decided to establish an International Working Group composed of specialists recruited from these two communities (deep-sea drillers and all other marine polar research disciplines).  Both groups were aided by specialists in icebreaker technology.

The ERICON AURORA BOREALIS Project is a core element of a European strategic framework in Polar Science. It will be the globally most advanced research platform with "state of the art technology" for polar research. It will provide a platform for tackling big scientific challenges, which could never be attacked up to now. It would be a floating European university in polar sciences. It would promote the idea of the European Research Area and it would result in a substantial competitive advantage.

Download the AURORA BOREALIS science plan here.                                                                                                                                                 

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