Friday, August 7th, 2020

National South Pole Expedition Launched

INVC,, Delhi,, Prithviraj Chavan, Union Minister of State for Earth Science launched the National South Pole Expedition from New Delhi here today via video conference and it was flagged off by Governor of Goa, Dr. Shivinder Singh Sidhu at Goa. With this, the 8 member team will leave for Capet Town, South Africa tomorrow. From Cape Town, the members will leave for Antarctica on 6th of this month and will reach the Flying Station on Antarctica next day which is 7 km away from our station, Maitri. The traverse on polar region will start around 8th or 9th of this month. Shri Chavan said the commitment to send our team to the South Pole becomes reality today and this will lift our scientific temperament very high. Giving details about our stations on the South Pole, the Minister said that considering the importance of Antarctic as a pedestal for front ranking scientific research, India launched its first Indian Antarctic Expedition in 1981.Our first Indian station ‘Dakshin Gangotri’ served from1983 to 1988. Currently, ‘Maitri’ which was built in 1989 still serves the Indian scientific community to conduct research in diverse scientific disciplines which include Atmospheric sciences and Meterology, Earth Sciences and Glaciology, Biology and Environmental Sciences, Human Biology and Medicine and Engineering and Communications. The 30th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica -2010–11 marks a landmark year as India marches ahead with the construction activity of its new station in the Larsemann Hills in East Antarctica. Referring to earlier expeditions, the Minister said that it is very important expedition as this would start international celebration of centenary of man’s reaching South Pole in 1911.The first expedition to the South Pole started in 1902 and completed in 1911.This expedition is scientific in nature and will be carried out with ice trucks, ice vehicles which travel 80 to 90 km/hour against the first expedition which was an adventure expedition where dogs and sledges were used. Taking into account the expertise required for travelling in the highly crevassed terrain at sub-zero temperatures touching minus 45° C and strong winds up to 200 km/hr., only the scientists who have the experience of wintering over in Antarctica and knowhow of snow vehicles have been included in the team. The team comprises of 8 members. Dr Rasik Ravindra, Director of National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) is leader of the team. There are other 5 scientists and two mechanics/drivers. Four Arctic trucks (Hilux) will be used during this expedition where one truck has been procured and three have been rented. These trucks have proven track record of performance in similar terrain and have accomplished successful journey to and fro South Pole in past. The company which is providing rented vehicles will also take care of maintenance, repairs and search and rescue operations if required. The team will conduct scientific experiments on their traverse of more than 2000 KM on South Pole. They will raise short cores at regular spacing along Maitri- South Pole near Amundsen- Scot station. They will traverse for study of variability of snow chemistry, particulate matter etc. Other experiments will include GPR section along traverse to understand bed rock topography and sub surface-ice structure, study of glacial- geomorphological landforms along the plateau, and collection of Meteorological parameter, data on atmospheric aerosol and magnetic data. The team will also work on bacteria which are surviving in extreme weather conditions. The collection of basic data will help in evaluating mineral resources. The glacial data will indicate some areas of common substances and specific differences in other areas. This will also help in study of gravity, magnetic fundamental differences of magnetic field etc.Data on Particulate fine matter from the air at various strata well help to study density, content of fine particles, diversity pattern of air flow which will be largely used by Meteorological and other departments. Various isotopes of oxygen and other elements which are trapped during snow fall and their different valencies will help to understand climate at particular time period. The one of its kind modern station is slated to be ready by 2012 when India would be a part of club of nations that has more than one station in Antarctica. This gives an opportunity to the Indian scientific community to cover a large spectrum of area in Antarctica. This would also help us to understand the coastal dynamics of the icy continent and to delve into the past climatic changes. The Governor of Goa flagged off the expedition. Prof. Rao from NCAOR, Dr. Rasik Ravindra also from NCAOR spoke at this occation.

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