A SEARCH is underway to find and rescue an intrepid explorer who disappeared on his return from a daring mission.

Astroduck became the first rubber bath toy to be sent into space when he soared into the upper atmosphere suspended from a weather balloon.

But although the launch for the University of York campus earlier this month went according to plan his return to Earth proved more problematic.

And now he’s believed to be lost and alone somewhere in the vast expanse that is the North York Moors.

Fitted with high-tech data gathering equipment Astroduck was sent to the stars to collect scientific information for the university’s Astronomy Society.

The equipment included GPS trackers so he could be quickly located – and all was working fine when carefully checked before take-off.

But there has been no sign of him since he returned and he is now believed to be lying somewhere on the Moors – where there is no GPS signal.

Local rangers have been alerted and a £200 reward is being offered – but so far there has been no sign of the missing duck.

“He is literally a very colourful character and the parachute he descended on was bright yellow so he should be easy to spot up close,” said physics undergraduate and mission controlled Adam Shore.

“But the North York Moors are a huge area and he could be anywhere so he’s going to be hard to find.”