By Tim Binnall
A renowned oceanographer who famously found the wreck of the Titanic has been enlisted in an ambitious new attempt to solve the mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance. National Geographic has announced that they are backing an extensive expedition to the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro in the Pacific Ocean with the goal of finding new evidence concerning the fate of the lost aviatrix could be found at the location. Leading the project will be Robert Ballard, a maritime archaeologist who found the remains of the infamous British passenger liner in 1985 as well as a number of other famous shipwrecks which had eluded researchers in the past.
Ballard and a team of experts will be journeying to Nikumaroro next month by way of the E/V Nautilus research vessel which has been responsible for discovering or capturing rare video evidence of a number of amazing marine creatures in recent years. The hope is that the advanced exploratory technology available via the vessel and Ballard's vast experience successfully searching for shipwrecks will prove to the perfect combination when it comes to figuring out what became of Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, who vanished in 1937 while trying to fly around the world.
The decision to focus the search on Nikumaroro is based on the research of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has been exhaustively investigating the Earhart case for years and has spearheaded a number of innovative attempts at solving the mystery once and for all. Previous projects from the organization included sending forensic dogs to the island in search of signs of a human presence as well as studying distress signals which could have come from Earhart after she disappeared.
The scope of the forthcoming expedition is rather promising as not only will Ballard and his team explore the waters around the island using the Nautilus vessel, but a group of archaeologists will also investigate the land itself looking for signs that Earhart may have been there. The final results of the project will be unveiled in a National Geographic television special later this year. While that aspect of the project may make some Earhart aficionados uneasy due to a similar 2017 TV event which turned into a debacle mere days after it aired, the sheer amount of resources being put into this new endeavor gives one hope that things will turn out differently.