From all parts of the globe—Norway, Sweden, Germany, Japan, and Texas, Maryland, and Massachusetts in the United States—scientists, engineers, crew members, helicopter pilots, and other expedition personnel arrived over the past several days for a mission to explore the Gakkel Ridge beneath the eastern Arctic Ocean. After 24 hours of flights and layovers en route, they converged on a Swedish icebreaker anchored off Longyearbyen, a tiny town on the tiny island of Spitsbergen in a tiny archipelago called Svalbard. It is located above the Arctic Circle at latitude 78°N, about 1,338 kilometers, or 600 miles, from the North Pole. Today we started rolling (literally) north out of the protected harbor into open waters toward the ice-covered Arctic Ocean. But as expedition members gathered over the past few days, we took a boat and a jaunt to the town of Longyearbyen.