The Tara expedition is a research expedition through the ice of the Arctic. The polar schooner Tara was to drift in the ice for approximately two years from its departure, late in August 2006. In the community of oceanography it is met with great interest especially in the context of the International Polar Year (2007–2008). This expedition, dubbed Tara Arctic, ended on February 23, 2008. It was part of the international DAMOCLES (Developing Arctic Modelling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies) program.
Eric Karsenti studied biophysics at the University of Paris, and obtained his PhD at the Institut Pasteur (Paris) in 1979. He is an extremely experienced sailor, having taught ocean navigation in Brittany. He has made major contributions to the understanding of molecular mechanisms governing the cell cycle. He has also worked with physicists in developing a new approach in cell biology which revealed how cell shape and division emerge from complex and dynamic molecular interactions. He created the Department of Cell Biology and Biophysics at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. This is an interdisciplinary department comprised of a dozen groups, all working on the morphogenesis of cells and embryos, with specialties ranging from cell biology and genetics to the development of sophisticated new imaging methods and statistical physics. Director of Research at the CNRS and head of a research unit at EMBL, Dr. Karsenti is a member of EMBO, and the French Academy of Sciences. He was scientific director of the Tara Oceans expedition and co-director of the Tara Oceans Polar Circle.