March 5, 2012 in Pictures
Logisticians are the unsung heroes of polar science. Logistics are something every Antarctic Operator has to take care of so that scientific work can be carried out smoothly.
Scientists usually arrive in Antarctica by plane. If the equipment they use is small enough, they take it with them. Our first duty is to organise the flights and the logistics in order to safely bring scientists and their equipment to Princess Elisabeth.
© International Polar Foundation
Every year, a ship transporting heavy equipment for both the scientists and for the station itself arrives at the Antarctic coast.
After unloading the ship, we transport everything to the station, some 200 km inland.
Antarctica can be a dangerous place. Scientists and team members are trained to spot crevasses and to rescue others should the need arise.
Everybody gets a chance to descend into the crevasse and learn how to behave in case of emergency.
There is always a trained doctor with with our team, who is trained into implementing evacuation procedures in case someone needs to be taken to Cape Town. We regularly rehearse throughout the season, to make sure we can take care of these emergencies as swiftly and as safely as possible.
There are also lots of hungry mouths to feed which, in such a remote place, amounts to a lot of planning and logistics on top of the challenge of cooking and serving tasty meals three times a day over the course of four months.
When away for four months, mealtimes are an important part of the social life of the station.
Before taking anyone into the field, we plan reconnaissance expeditions to map out crevasses zones and mark safe paths with flags on poles.
Teams always travel in convoy, lead by field guides who know the terrain and make sure everybody stays on track.
When in the field, team members help scientists mount and unmount their equipment and lend a hand for the actual operations.
Our mobile units allow scientists to sleep and work in the field in relative comfort for long periods of time.
One of our field camps: small scientific villages on the ice.
When scientists have completed with their research, we pack everything up and go back to the station.
Some scientific expeditions need to ship back lots of samples. Our Japanese friends for example, collected meteorites which we then shipped to Japan.
Having engineers around can be quite handy: if Antarctica breaks it, we can fix it immediately. Erik is repairing a seismometer which otherwise would have had to be brought back to Belgium to be fixed. Thanks to him, scientists could stay on track with their program.
Kristof Soette, our chief mechanic prepares the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) equipment for us in a glaciology field expedition this year.
Alain and Kristof with their drilling gear. To take CTD measurements, you first have to drill through a thick layer of ice: we can do that!
This season, the IPF team also helped Denis Lombardi install a seismometer powered by solar panels.
Our home for these four months; see you next year, Princess Elisabeth Antarctica!
January 23, 2012 - News
February 13, 2012 - Picture gallery
February 23, 2012 - Picture gallery
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