Waking up in the dark
Credits: A. Kumar
Alex writes: The strangest feeling is waking up in the morning when its dark outside. You feel disorientated in time and place - even through the usual fog caused by hypoxia, it takes a few seconds longer to register where you are and more so, what time it is. I suppose this is how a bear feels when it digs its den and settles down to hibernate until spring.
Life quickly became concentrated in the base. Our master-chef Giorgio prepares breakfast, lunch and dinner at normal times keeping the station to a regular biorhythm of its own, but my saviour is my wrist watch. I bought it for only 8 euros and it has a light, alarm and stopwatch - everything you need. It has travelled with me on my wrist for almost 9 years, sailing through medical examinations, times zones, jungles, tents and even a war zone. It has outlived two pairs of walking boots and more pairs of underwear than I care to remember.
A day in the life of a research medical doctor at Concordia station
Credits: A. Kumar
Alex writes: I coined the term 'Planet Concordia' to describe the extreme environment in which we live. This is the closest you can be to living on the surface of another planet. A planet with oxygen but not as much oxygen as there is at sea level on Earth.
Calling all hivernauts
Every year ESA advertises for the next Concordia research doctor. That time has come again and doctors are invited to apply - the only requirement is that you are a medical doctor and a national from a list of certain countries.
I will describe a typical day of my life here on Planet Concordia to inspire people to apply for the job. I should say, there is no such thing as a typical day here, each day can be as different as you want it to be.
Where winter brings summer
Alex writes: After the sun disappeared for the last time we expected temperatures to drop below -80 degrees Celsius. On Thursday, we woke up to find the temperature had changed overnight by 40 degrees Celsius - but instead of getting colder it had gotten warmer, reaching a 'scorching' -28 degrees Celsius. This is warm for Concordia Station even in summer!
Temperature over 24 hours at Concordia. Credits: Concordia weather updates provided by PNRA/ ENEA
Light at the end of the tunnel: our last sunset
Credits: A. Kumar
Alex writes: It has been a week since we saw our last sunset. I took some time out to enjoy and preserve this special time.
From now on things are going to be different. It will be more of a challenge trying to maintain a normal body clock.
I have been lucky to have witnessed spectacular sunsets around the world, from Pokhara lake in the Himalayas to Caribbean sunsets worthy of postcards.
I took a stroll and stood outside for a while to soak up the last rays. (more...)
Letter to Concordia team from trainers
Editors note: below is an open letter to the Concordia team written by their trainers.
Dear Concordia 2012 winter crew: Stephane, Erick, Giorgio, Igor, Bimbo, Roberto, Gerard, Mattia, Guillaume, Sebastien, Alexander, Barbara and Bruno,
Complete Concordia team poses in front of the base
Your trainers have regrouped for another Human Factor seminar. As usual we discussed the challenges of working in stressfull environments, and the individual and team behaviour that help deal with these challenges.
We put people through complex exercises and get them to reflect on the way they communicate with the rest of the team. We find individual preferences for the roles they wish to play in a team, and how they affect team dynamics.