The 12-member crew of Concordia research station woke up to a most welcome sight in early August: sunrise, after four months of Antarctic darkness.
The return of the sun is a major milestone for the isolated and confined crew; they are three-quarters of the way through their Antarctic residency and will soon prepare to welcome the summer influx of researchers at the base.
ESA-sponsored medical doctor Hannes Hagson snapped this picture from the Station’s front door in early on 5 August. “Time here has the strange quality of both passing really quickly and very slowly at the same time,” he shared, “and in just two days we expect the return of the sun to grace us here at 75 degrees south! The returning daylight certainly has us all cheered up and starting to sense the beginning of the final part of this adventure.”
The winter months in Antarctica are tough, with temperatures dropping below −80C under a pitch black sky.
To combat winter blues, the crew keep busy, celebrating mid-winter (and the half-way point in their Antarctic stay) in June with their own traditions and taking part in the Antarctic Winter Games in July. Stations with a winter crew across Antarctica participate in a series of physical challenges and friendly competition.
With August comes not only sunlight, but production work for the Antarctic Film Festival, with each base submitting an original piece. Check out last year’s winning entry from Concordia in the Open category.
Of course, it’s not all fun and games. Hannes has been busy with biomedical research, as he continues to gather data from crew urine, stool and blood samples, as well as cognitive and psychological measures through questionnaires to study the effects of isolated, confined and extreme environments on the human body.
In October the crew will begin to prepare the base for the summer campaign. Rooms and tents must be prepared for the 40 or so incoming researchers.
Follow Hannes along on this adventure on the Concordia blog.