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We are living in Concordia station, Antarctica, researching glaciology, climate and physiology. We haven’t seen the Sun for 4 months and 4 months to go before fresh supplies are flown in. The temperature outside is –67.8°C.
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We are based at the French-Italian research station Concordia on the east high Antarctic plateau (75°S, 123°E, 3233m). It is one of the remotest, coldest, driest places on Earth, we are 1200 km from the coast and our nearest neighbour is 600 km away: the Russian station Vostok. The landscape is an immense white, flat surface of compacted snow extending 1000 km in all directions. The snow and ice on which we walk is more than 3 km thick. Living here is like living on another planet, ‘Planet Concordia’ or ‘White Mars’. During the nine months of winter from February to November, the station is completely isolated from the rest of the world. No plane or vehicle can reach us, even in an emergency as the harsh weather conditions make all travel impossible. We have experienced temperatures down to –80°C and three months of complete darkness. The multicultural crew is consists of 13 people: seven for logistics and six scientists. We are five Italians, one Swiss, one English and six French. This year we are three women and ten men from 24 to 56 years old. We must rely on our own skills and teamwork while being prepared to face any kind of emergency through training, fire, rescue and medical exercises. Antarctica is the largest, most extreme, multi-disciplinary, open-air scientific laboratory that helps us understand the mechanisms that regulate our planet, its climate, its history and offers a platform to observe and understand the structure of the universe, as well as charting the adaptation of humans to harsh environments. Thanks to the Antarctic Treaty, nations worldwide collaborate peacefully with respect for this environment in the name of science. We are one of very few stations at the heart of the Antarctic continent, so Concordia stands as an important node in the Earth Observatory Grid, for fields such as meteorology, seismology, geomagnetism and atmospheric chemistry. Lorenzo Moggio: 30 years old, Italian physicist, research fellow at the Bologna Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the Italian National Research Council. This is my second winter spent at Concordia, I was here in 2010 as well. Giampietro Casasanta: 35 years old, Italian physicist with a PhD in Remote Sensing and research fellow at the Rome Bologna Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the Italian National Research Council. I am in charge of the Italian glaciology and remote sensing experiments. Our tasks are to maintain and assure the scientific instruments work, retrieve the data run a first analysis and send it to Europe on a daily basis. We measure radiative balances at Earth’s surface, Meterological variables, optical and physical properties of aerosols, properties of clouds. We have at our disposal broadband and spectral radiometers in the shortwave, longwave and ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum, particle counters and sizers, lidar, sodar, sonic anemometers, automatic weather stations and sounding stations equipped with: barometers, anemometers, thermo-hygrometers, GPS and radio transmitters/receivers. Beth Healey: British medical doctor. I am running studies for the European Space Agency on the crew and myself to see how we adapt to living in this extreme environment. Our nine-month isolation living completely cut off from the world with low air pressure is similar in many ways to the stress astronauts will endure during a long spaceflight. I am running experiments on morale, eyesight, blood pressure and even searching for new life! http://www.esa.int/concordia Ask Us Anything about life here and the science we do! Moderator note: Due to a scheduling mix up they will not be able to answer questions at the normal time (turns out it’s 1:30 am their time right now!) We will work on getting them online as soon as is reasonable, sorry for the confusion! Edit: We have started, sorry for the delay. Proof: http://imgur.com/joZLQvf