LONDON        -         UK scientists’ bid to find a hidden population of iron meteorites in the Antarctic has been beaten into submission.

The University of Manchester team had developed a detection system it hoped would reveal the metal objects sitting just under the ice surface.

But after 18 days of survey work, the equipment has broken beyond repair. It seems the components couldn’t cope with the pounding they received as the detector was dragged across hard ice.

“This constant battering from the ice meant that anything which could fail did, and once repaired as best we could, a weakness in components remained for further exploitation,” expedition co-lead Dr Geoff Evatt reported on Wednesday.

The scientists had been trying to test a theory that would explain why so few iron meteorites turn up in Antarctica compared with the rest of the world.