Concordia Station

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Concordia Research Station at Dome Charlie.
The main part of the summer camp at Dome C (Concordia) Station in January 2005

Concordia Research Station, which opened in 2005, is a research facility that was built 3,233 m above sea level at a location called Dome C on the Antarctic Plateau, Antarctica. It is located 1,100 km inland from the French research station at Dumont D'Urville, 1,100 kilometres inland from Australia's Casey Station and 1,200 kilometres inland from the Italian Zucchelli Station at Terra Nova Bay. Russia's Vostok Station is 560 kilometres away. The Geographic South Pole is 1670 kilometres away. The facility is also located within Australia's claim on Antarctica, the Australian Antarctic Territory.

Concordia Station is the third permanent, all-year research station on the Antarctic Plateau besides Vostok Station (Russian) and the Amundsen-Scott Station (U.S.) at the Geographic South Pole. It is jointly operated by scientists from France and Italy and regularly hosts ESA scientists.

History[edit]

In 1992, France decided to build a new station on the Antarctic Plateau. The program was later joined by Italy. In 1996, a French-Italian team established a summer camp at Dome C. The two main objectives of the camp were the provision of logistical support for the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) and the construction of a permanent research station. The new all-year facility, Concordia Station, became operational in 2005. The first winterover began with a staff of 13 in February 2005.

Access[edit]

Part of a traverse, which was bringing fuel, food, and other supplies from Dumont d'Urville to Dome C (January 2005)

Most of the cargo is moved to Dome C by traverse from Dumont d'Urville Station, covering 1,200 km in 7 to 12 days depending on weather conditions. Station personnel and light cargo arrive by air, using Twin Otter aircraft from DDU or Mario Zucchelli Station at 1200 km.

Environment[edit]

Dome C is one of the coldest places on Earth. Temperatures hardly rise above −25 °C in summer and can fall below −80 °C in winter with a recent record –84.6 °C in 2010. The annual average air temperature is −54.5 °C. Humidity is low and it is also very dry, with very little precipitation throughout the year.

Dome C does not experience the katabatic winds typical for the coastal regions of Antarctica because of its elevated location and its relative distance from the edges of the Antarctic Plateau. Typical wind speed in winter is 2.8 m/s.

Dome C is situated on top of the Antarctic Plateau, the world's largest desert. No animals or plants live at a distance of more than a few tens of kilometers from the Southern Ocean. However, skuas have been spotted overflying the station, 1,200 km away from their nearest food sources. It is believed that these birds have learned to cross the continent instead of circumnavigating it.

Human biology and medicine[edit]

Concordia Station shares many stressor characteristics with long duration deep space missions, in particular extreme isolation and confinement, and as such serves as a useful analogue platform for research relevant to space medicine. During the winter the crew are without possibility of evacuation or deliveries for 9 months and live for a prolonged period in total darkness, at altitude almost equivalent to 4000m at the equator. The physiological and psychological strains on the crew are marked. Concordia station is particularly useful for the study of chronic hypobaric hypoxia, stress secondary to confinement and isolation, circadian rhythm and sleep disruption, individual and group psychology, telemedicine, and astrobiology. Concordia station has been proposed as the one of the highest fidelity real-life Earth-based analogues for long duration deep space missions.[1]

Glaciology[edit]

In the 1970s, Dome C was the site of ice core drilling by field teams of several nations. In the 1990s, Dome C was chosen for deep ice core drilling by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA). Drilling at Dome C began in 1996 and was completed on December 21, 2004, reaching a drilling depth of 3270.2 m, 5 m above bedrock. The age of the oldest recovered ice is estimated to be ca. 900,000 years.[2]

Astronomy[edit]

Concordia Station has been identified as a suitable location for extremely accurate astronomical observations. The transparency of the Antarctic atmosphere permits the observation of stars even when the sun is at an elevation angle of 38°. Other advantages include the very low infrared sky emission, the high percentage of cloud-free time and the low aerosol and dust content of the atmosphere.

Writing in the Proceedings of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Karim Agabi et al. discuss the suitability of the site for astronomy in terms of the seeing.[3] Their key finding:

The median seeing measured with a DIMM (Differential Image Motion Monitor) placed on top of an 8.5 m high tower is 1.3 ± 0.8 arcseconds.

This is significantly worse than most major observatory sites, but similar to other observatories in Antarctica. However, Lawrence et al. consider other features of the site and conclude that "Dome C is the best ground-based site to develop a new astronomical observatory".[4] Note however that this was written before whole-atmospheric seeing measurements had been made at Dome C.

The experiments to measure the astronomical conditions at the site were controlled by a computer system that had to supervise the generation of its own electricity using a jet-fuel powered stirling engine. The computer, running Linux, communicated with the outside world using an Iridium phone.[5]

Winterovers[edit]

While the station is used in summer campaign since December 1997, the first winterover (February to October) was only made in 2005. During this period, the station is inaccessible, requiring a total autonomy of wintering.

First winter-over (DC01 - 2005)[edit]

The first winter began in mid-February 2005, with thirteen wintering (eleven French people and two Italians):

  • Michel Munoz: station leader, plumber, France
  • Roberto Dicasilati: doctor, Italy
  • Christophe Mozer: powerhouse chief, France
  • Pascal Bordais: radio, electronic, computer, France
  • Emanuele Salvietti: glaciologist, Italy
  • Claire Le Calvez: technical chief, France
  • Michel Galland: electrician, France
  • Jean-Louis Duraffourg: chef, France
  • Abdelkarim Agabi (Karim Agabi): astronomer, France
  • Stéphane Beausire: boilermaker welder, France
  • Jean Elegoet: mechanic vehicles, France
  • Jean-François Jurvilliers: technical, France
  • Guillaume Dargaud: climatologist, France (under contract with the PNRA Italian)

In September 2005 the highest temperature was -48 °C, with an average in August of -60.2 °C and a record of -78.6 °C on 1 September. At these temperatures, trips outside had to be performed with the utmost care. Those going outside travelled at least in pairs and were equipped with a radio, spare batteries and a full fleece suit, with only the eyes at times visible. Glaciologist Italian Emanuele Salvietti had to take snow samples every day one kilometre from the base. As he had to walk (because no vehicle operates at these temperatures), he built a full face mask, with only a pipe to breathe. The slightest mistake would lead to certain injury, as astronomer Agabi Karim explained: "Burns on the cheeks and eyelashes glued to the lens of the telescope," after exposure to the freezing cold.

Second winter-over (DC02 - 2006)[edit]

The second winter was conducted from February to November 2006 with a team of ten wintering (six French and four Italian):

  • Minh Ly Pham Minh: station leader, physician,France
  • Michele Impara: computer science, Italy
  • Loïc Le Bechec: chef, France
  • Lucia Agnoletto: seismologist, Italy
  • Eric Aristidi: astronomer, France
  • Omar Cerri: glaciologist, Italy
  • Shaun Deshommes: technical chief, France
  • Elyseo of Eramo: mechanic, Italy
  • José Dos Santos: electrician, France
  • Miguel Ravoux: plumber, France

The record temperature for this winter was measured at -80 °C on 5 September 2006 at 2:37 ET was renewed several times.

Third winter-over (DC03 - 2007)[edit]

The third winter ran from February to November 2007 with a team of wintering composed of fourteen people (eight French and six Italian):

  • François Jeanneaux: engineer, France
  • Jean-Pierre Pillisio: plumber, France
  • Carlos Marsal: chef, France
  • Maurizio Busetto: climatologist, Italy
  • Yvan Levy: technical chief, France
  • Nicolas Le Parc: electrician, France
  • Christophe Choley: mechanic, France
  • Federico Miliacca: computer and telecommunications, Italy
  • Djamel Mékarnia: astronomer, France
  • Runa Briguglio: astronomer, Italy
  • Giuseppe Soriani: surgeon, Italy
  • Pietro di Felice: station leader, engineer, Italy
  • Benedict Cuisset: technical, France
  • Alessandro Iacomino: glaciologist, Italy

The average temperature was -65 °C and the minimum temperature recorded was -81.9 °C reached on September 5.

Fourth winter-over (DC04 - 2008)[edit]

The fourth winter took place from 31 January 2008 to 8 November 2008 with a team consisting of thirteen winter-overs (seven French and six Italian):

  • Erick Bondoux: astronomer, France
  • Laurent Bonnardot: biomedical, France
  • Zalpha Challita: astronomer, France
  • Giorgio Deidda: chef, Italy
  • Sébastien Denamur: mechanic, France
  • Laurent Fromont: electrician, France
  • Daniele Frosini: glaciologist, Italy
  • Patrick LeRoy: technical chief, France
  • Fabrizio Martinet: plumber, Italy
  • Roberto Rainis: doctor, Italy
  • Lucia Sabbatini: astrophysicist, Italy
  • Riccardo Schioppo: climatologist, Italy
  • Jean-François Vanacker: station leader, radio France

Fifth winter-over (DC05 - 2009)[edit]

The fifth wintering took place from February 2009 to November 2009 with a team of twelve people (eight French, three Italian and one British):

  • Massimiliano Faiella: technical chief, Italy
  • Domenico Fasano: chef, Italy
  • William Frinot: plumber, France
  • Laura Genoni: glaciologist, Italy
  • Caroline Jullian: atmospheric chemistry, France
  • Alexander Leluc: mechanic, France
  • Eric Lotz: station leader, physician, France
  • Denis Petermann: astronomer, France
  • Cyprien Pouzenc: astronomer, France
  • Alex Salam: ESA biomedical research, Great-Britain
  • Eric Tragin: electrician, France
  • Jonathan Zaccaria: radio, computer, science support, France

Sixth winter-over (DC06 - 2010)[edit]

This Wintering took place with a team of thirteen (six French, six Italian and one Czech):

  • Jean-François Vanacker: station leader, France
  • Ales Rybka: ESA biomedical research, Czech Republic
  • Karim Agabi: astronomer, France
  • Alessandro Bambini: electrician, Italy
  • Arthur Le Forestier: technical chief, France
  • Boris Padovan: computer, telecommunications, Italy
  • Christophe Rouy: mechanic, France
  • Daniele Karlicek: glaciologist, Italy
  • Giorgio Deidda: chef, Italy
  • Jean-Marie Moysan: plumber, France
  • Lorenzo Moggio: atmospheric chemistry, Italy
  • Rosa Forgittoni: doctor, Italy
  • Sylvain Lafont: glaciologist, France

Seventh winter-over (DC07 - 2011)[edit]

The seventh wintering took place with a team of 14 people (seven French, six Italian and one British):

  • Andrea Cesana: station leader, doctor, Italy
  • Eoin MacDonald: ESA biomedical research, Scotland
  • Djamel Mekarnia: astronomer, France
  • Eric Aristidi: astronomer, France
  • Alessandro Giusto: electrician, Italy
  • Sergeant Frederic: technical chief, France
  • Paolo Perfetti: computer, telecommunications, Italy
  • David Colin: mechanic, France
  • Domenico Romano: astronomer, glaciologist, Italy
  • Andrea Ballarini: chef, Italy
  • Vivien Koutcheroff: plumber, France
  • Ilann Bourgeois: atmospheric chemistry, glaciologist, France
  • Pascal Robert: technician seismology, magnetism, France
  • Angelo Galeandro: meteorologist, Italy

Eighth winter-over (DC08 - 2012)[edit]

The eighth wintering took place with a team of 13 people (seven French, four Italian, one Russian and one British):

  • Eric Bondoux: station leader, electronic technician for science, France
  • Alexander Kumar: Station physician and ESA biomedical research MD, United Kingdom
  • Barbara Grolla: nurse anesthetist, France
  • Guillaume Bouchez: astronomer, France
  • Alessandro Bambini: electrotechnician, Italy
  • Stephane Calvo: technical chief, France
  • Roberto D'Amato: informatician, telecommunications, Italy
  • Bruno Limouzy: mecanician, France
  • Mattia Bonazza: glaciologist, atmospheric chemistry, Italy
  • Giorgio Deidda: chef, Italy
  • Gérard Guérin: plumber, France
  • Sebastien Aubin: glaciologist, atmospheric chemistry, France
  • Igor Petenko: atmospheric science and climate, Russia.

Ninth winter (DC09 - 2013)[edit]

The ninth wintering took place with a team of 15 people (nine French, five Italian and one Greek):

  • Anne-Marie Courant: station leader, physician, France
  • Evangelos Kaimakamis: ESA biomedical research, Greece
  • Helene Faradji: astronomer, France
  • Christophe Leroy Dos Santos: astronomer, France
  • Yann Reinert: astronomer, France
  • Jean Gabriel Coll: electrician, France
  • Yannick Marin: technical chief, France
  • Bruno Epifania: computer, telecommunications, Italy
  • Simon Reuze: mechanic, France
  • Elio Padoan: glaciologist, atmospheric chemistry, Italy
  • Luigi Vailati: chef, Italy
  • Olivier Delanoë: Plumber, France
  • Albane Barbero: glaciologist, atmospheric chemistry, meteorological maintenance, France
  • Antonio Litterio: electronic technician for science, Italy
  • Simonetta Montaguti: atmospheric science and climate, Italy

Tenth winter-over (DC10 - 2014)[edit]

The tenth wintering will take place with a team of 13 people (six French, five Italian, one Russian and one Greek):[6]

  • Bruno Limouzy: Electrical motors, France
  • Giorgio Deidda: Chef, Italy
  • Tindari Ceraolo: Station leader, physician, Italy
  • Adrianos Golemis: ESA biomedical research,[7] Greece
  • Pierre Pejoine: Mechanic, France
  • Paride Legovini: Physicist,[8] Electronic technician for science, Italy
  • Julien Ribet: Electrotechnician, France
  • Tommaso Nicosia: Computer, telecommunications, Italy
  • Daniele Tavagnacco: Astrophysicist, Italy
  • Olivier Haye: Technical Chief, plumbing and heating, France
  • Cecile Lenormant: Chemist, France
  • Igor Petenko: Atmospheric science and climate, Russia
  • Xavier Joffrin: Astronomy, France.

During the 2014 Antarctic winter Concordia is an active amateur radio station: Paride Legovini operates from there on a weekly basis with call sign IA/IZ3SUS.[9] The HF radio equipment consists in a Rohde & Schwarz XK2100L transceiver with a 150W RF output and a delta loop antenna located a few hundrends of meters away from the station.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Salam, Alex. The coldest Job on Earth. BMJ Careers, June 2009. http://careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/view-article.html?id=20000233
  2. ^ "In the Cornucopia of the European Project of Ice Coring in Antarctica: the oldest Antarctic ice core" (Press release). Alfred-Wegener-Institut. 2005-01-13. 
  3. ^ Abdelkrim Agabi, Eric Aristidi, Max Azouit, Eric Fossat, Francois Martin, Tatiana Sadibekova, Jean Vernin, Aziz Ziad (2005). "First whole atmosphere night-time seeing measurements at Dome C, Antarctica". Proceedings of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 118 (840): 344. arXiv:astro-ph/0510418. Bibcode:2006PASP..118..344A. doi:10.1086/498728. 
  4. ^ Jon S. Lawrence, Michael C. B. Ashley, Andrei Tokovinin, and Tony Travouillon (16 September 2004). "Exceptional astronomical seeing conditions above Dome C in Antarctica" (PDF). Nature 431 (7006): 278–281. doi:10.1038/nature02929. PMID 15372024. FAQ by the authors
  5. ^ "Exceptional astronomical seeing conditions above Dome C in Antarctica". FAQ. Retrieved 2006-01-31. 
  6. ^ "Vivi con noi la XXIX Spedidione italiana in Antartide". Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  7. ^ "Follow MSS13 Adrianos Golemis to the Antarctic Concordia Station". Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  8. ^ "Paride Legovini's Website". Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  9. ^ "WAPONLINE > News & Information > Archive 2014 > February 2014". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  10. ^ "IZ3SUS - Callsign Lookup by QRZ.COM". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 75°06′S 123°20′E / 75.100°S 123.333°E / -75.100; 123.333