Concordia research station in the heart of Antarctica witnessed its last sunset for over three months last Sunday. From here on they will work and live under artificial lighting as they survive and conduct research at the remotest base on Earth.
This photograph from the International Space Station (ISS) shows the eastern half of South Georgia Island. At 54 degrees South latitude, snow and ice are permanent everywhere on the island except at altitudes near sea level, where temperatures are higher.
It is cold, dark, dangerous and lonely but the views and experience are unforgettable. ESA is looking for a medical doctor to run experiments at the Concordia research base in Antarctica.
Each year, ESA sponsors a medical doctor to spend around 12 months at the polar station run by the French IPEV polar institute and the Italian PNRA Antarctic programme. For nine months the base is cut off from the outside world, with no travel possible to or from the base, even in emergencies.
Multibeam bathymetric survey techniques provide a rapid means of determining the morphology and nature of the seafloor. The recent Hydrosweep DS-2 System onboard R/V Polarstern provides 59 individual soundings of the water depth and echo strength for each ping. Moreover sidescan information (2048 echos per ping) is retrieved. The system can be operated with 90 or 120 degrees fan angle and is designed for deep sea observations. Illustration: Alfred-Wegener-Institut
The French-Italian Concordia station's programme of research includes glaciology, human biology and the atmosphere. ESA uses the base to prepare for future long-duration missions beyond Earth. During the winter, Concordia is under almost total darkness, with an average temperature of -51*C and a record low of -85*C. It is an ideal place to study the effects on small, multicultural teams isolated for long periods in an extreme, hostile environment. Auroras occur frequently over both the North and South polar regions, but are often difficult to see from populated areas Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA - E. Macdonald-Nethercott
Alaskan mountains seen from high altitude aboard the NASA P-3B during the IceBridge transit flight from Thule to Fairbanks on March 21, 2013.
NASA's Operation IceBridge is an airborne science mission to study Earth's polar ice. For more information about IceBridge, visit: www.nasa.gov/icebridge. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Christy Hansen. Larger image.