Stranded ship

(CNN) -- Efforts to rescue a research crew aboard a ship stuck in the ice in Antarctica appeared to be a go, with reports weather conditions have improved enough to launch a helicopter to pick up the passengers, Australian maritime officials said Thursday.

If successful, the rescue scheduled to begin Thursday morning local time would bring to an end a saga that began on Christmas Eve after the Russian-flagged MV Akademik Shokalskiy got stuck in 10 feet of ice and made social media stars of the climate change research team who chronicled their story.

"This rescue will be a complex operation involving a number of steps and subject to factors such as weather," said Lisa Martin of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

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