The first batch of 23 scientists and support staff that is part of India’s 41st Scientific Expedition to Antarctica reached the Indian station ‘Maitri’ on the white continent last week, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.
The 2 main objectives of this expedition involve geological exploration of the Amery ice shelf at Bharati station and reconnaissance surveys and preparatory work for drilling through 500 meters of ice core near Maitri station.
By mid-January next year, four more batches will travel to Antarctica by air through the DROMLAN facility and chartered ice-class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovnin, the statement said.
41st Indian Scientific Expedition to #Antarctica has been launched from NCPOR. Members of first batch reached Cape Town and started 14 days institutional quarantine on 26 Oct 2021 as per guidelines of #COMNAP and #DROMLAN before boarding Antarctic flight on 8 Nov 2021@moesgoi pic.twitter.com/u9qZkyFRv5
— NCPOR (@ncaor_goa) October 26, 2021
The first program carrying out geological exploration of the Amery ice shelf at Bharati station will help establish links between India and Antarctica in the past. The second program at the Maitri Station will improve understanding of the Antarctic climate, westerly winds, sea-ice, and greenhouse gases from the single climate archive over the past 10,000 years.
“The ice core drilling will be done in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey and the Norwegian Polar Institute. In addition to accomplishing scientific programmes, it will replenish the annual supplies of food, fuel, provisions, and spares for operations and maintenance of life support systems at Maitri and Bharati,” the press release said.
The Indian Antarctic program, which began in 1981, has completed 40 scientific expeditions and built three permanent research base stations in Antarctica: Dakshin Gangotri (1983), Maitri (1988), and Bharati (2012).
As of today, Maitri and Bharati are fully operational. The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa is an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Earth Sciences and manages the entire Indian Antarctic programme.
The Indian contingent reached Antarctica after training for snow-ice acclimatisation and survival at the Mountaineering and Skiing Institute, ITBP Auli, Uttarakhand; and a stringent sanitary protocol including a 14-day quarantine at Cape Town, South Africa.
The crew is expected to return to Cape Town in late March or early April of 2022, leaving a team of 48 members over winter. It will also bring back the winter team of the preceding 40th expedition. The 41st expedition is being led by Scientist, National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (Voyage Leader), Dr Shailendra Saini; Metrologist, India Metrological Department (Leader, Maitri Station), Huidrom Nageshwar Singh and scientist Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (Leader, Bharati Station), Anoop Kalayil Soman, the release said.