Explorer who discovered Titanic wants to learn Amelia Earhart's fate

The deep-sea explorer who discovered the Titanic will set out next month on a mission to solve the disappearance of famous aviator Amelia Earhart.

Robert Ballard, the oceanographer who found the Titanic in 1985 during a secret military operation, will begin to search for signs of Amelia Earhart, the pilot who disappeared from her attempted around-the-world flight more than 80 years ago.

Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan vanished on July 12, 1937, after taking off from Lae, New Guinea, in a Lockheed Electra 10E plane bound for Howard Island, located just north of the Equator.

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FILE - In this Jan. 13, 1935, file photo, American aviatrix Amelia Earhart climbs from the cockpit of her plane at Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 1935, file photo, American aviatrix Amelia Earhart climbs from the cockpit of her plane at Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo, File)

Her disappearance prompted years of search efforts and conspiracy theories, including beliefs Earhart was captured and killed by the Japanese, settled with the natives of a Pacific island and even returned to New Jersey where she secretly lived out the rest of her days as a housewife.

Ballard and a National Geographic expedition will search for her plane near a Pacific Ocean atoll that's part of the Phoenix Islands.

His team will use remotely operated underwater vehicles in their search, the National Geographic channel said Tuesday. An archaeological team will also investigate a potential Earhart campsite with search dogs and DNA sampling.

FILE - In this June 26, 1928, file photo, American aviatrix Amelia Earhart poses with flowers as she arrives in Southampton, England,  (AP Photo, File)

FILE - In this June 26, 1928, file photo, American aviatrix Amelia Earhart poses with flowers as she arrives in Southampton, England,  (AP Photo, File)

National Geographic will air a two-hour special on Oct. 20. "Expedition Amelia" will include clues gathered by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery that led Ballard to the atoll, named Nikumaroro.

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Ballard also is responsible for finding pieces of John F. Kennedy's World War II patrol boat in the Solomon Sea, the German battleship Bismarck in the Atlantic, and many ancient ships in the Black Sea, as well as hydrothermal vents near the Galapagos, the channel said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.