ESA astronaut André Kuipers blogs about his talk with Concordia
From ESA astronaut André Kuiper's weblog:
The six of us on the Space Station live quite isolated from the world. But we are not the only people in such a situation. Before my mission started I asked if I could be in contact with two other missions. One on the bottom of the sea and one on the South Pole. I had very special conversations with people that are in similar situations or even more isolated.
The first contact I had was with the people on the science base Concordia on the South Pole. They probably have a tougher time than we do up here. It is extremely cold at -80 degrees Celsius and when it is summer in The Netherlands they live in permanent darkness. The crew cannot leave, as the fuel in their vehicles is frozen and aircraft cannot reach them. Compared to their experience I think a space mission is quite varied.
Midsummer up north
Credits: Kolbjørn Blix Dahle
Alex writes: During midwinter in the southern hemisphere we try to remember the sunlight and wonder about midsummer. I was sent this text which shows how varied different places on planet Earth can be...
At the Andøya Rocket Range in northern Norway the Sun has been up since mid-May and will not dip below the horizon until July 25.
It is easier to get up in the morning and more difficult to go to bed at night when the Sun hovers over the ocean. It is as if the Sun itself is urging us to stay up.
Just a little bit longer, it pleads… you can sleep in the winter. (more…)
Half way somewhere: Midwinter & Midsummer Greetings from Concordia to the world!
Alex writes: Another 'Christmas' of sorts comes again in Antarctica - arriving on the eve June 21, in a flurry of preparations, costumes, speeches, entertainment, music and dance accompanied by some of chef Giorgio’s best food. It comes at the height of the Northern Hemisphere's summer. This could be the most international holiday in the world, with all the nationalities staying in Antarctica, regardless of race or religion. It is a special day and it brings new hope. Please keep sending us your photos of midsummer celebrations.
Short and sweet update from Giorgio
Credits: A. Kumar
An update from Chef Giorgio: This week marks midwinter, we are at the darkest period, halfway to seeing the Sun again. I decided to start the week by boosting morale for the crew.
Chocolate is great for morale when it is cold and dark outside. I woke up 2.5 hours before the rest of the crew and prepared this. Living in Antarctica inspired me to make the penguins...
If you wish you can see more photos of the meals I create on my new Facebook page.
Please send us your photos of midsummer celebrations, we are enjoying the pictures of the Sun already.
Join the dark side: send us questions and photos
Satellite dish at Concordia Credits: A. Kumar
Alex writes: This week we celebrate midwinter. We are halfway through the darkness and on the home stretch to see the sun for the first time in four months. The northern hemisphere will celebrate midsummer this week. Opposites attract - we would love to see your photos of the Sun and your midsummer celebrations. Share them on this Flickr group.
Hidden treasures of the dark
Alex writes: I took this photo last night and dedicate it all my readers and to our astronauts circling Earth on the International Space Station - I hope you find it as inspiring as I have.
I 'tucked' a crew member and volunteer research subject into bed for an overnight brain wave monitoring and asked Seb to come out for a walk to look at the stars. We never leave the base alone, it is too dangerous. A sprained ankle could stop us from getting back to the base and we could freeze to death in less than an hour. It is better to adhere to the buddy system and do everything together.
Once outside I was knocked off my feet - not only by the cold, but what I saw above - the Milky Way. Never in my life had I felt so small and insignificant.
The world’s coldest, most remote Diamond Jubilee Tea Party
Credits: A. Kumar
Alex writes: A unique feature of living at Concordia Station is that it is the only truly multi-national station in Antarctica. Concordia is built, owned and run by the French Polar Institute and Italian Antarctic Programme. This year our Russian meteorologist, Dr Igor Petenko and myself are representing the British, Indian and Russian heritage.
Together, and only together can we survive at the uttermost end of the world. (more…)
Alex and Sebastien’s birthday: Fusion cooking
Credits: A. Kumar
Giorgio writes: Saturday we celebrated Alex and Sebastien’s birthday as well as Queen Elizabeth’s 60th jubilee.
I tried to cook a menu that mixed the birthday boy’s heritage. It was not an obvious combination as Alex is English and Indian while Seb is from France. (more…)
Birthday cooking with Giorgio
Credits: A. Kumar
New entry from Giorgio: My name is Giorgio Deidda and I am the chef on Planet Concordia. Anyone who has been hungry will know that food is very important to how you feel and for morale. I take my job very seriously.
I will be helping Alex with this blog and will share some of my favourite recipes with you.
This is my third winter in Concordia where I enjoy the freedom to cook what I wish and I enjoy the challenge of cooking in the extreme environment. I try to continually surprise my crew mates and to push the boundaries of Antarctic cooking.
Cooking on Concordia is different in every way. Even water boils differently here. Because the atmospheric pressure is so low water starts to boil at 87 degrees Celsius instead of 100 degrees. Getting pasta to cook perfectly ‘al dente’ requires both experience and trial and error. (more…)