Happy Halloween from the Antarctic crew that brought you frozen noodles!
After enduring the three and a half months of winter darkness and freezing temperatures (lowest recorded this year was -79°C, -100°C with windchill!), the team is transitioning into summer. This means months of complete light that extends over what we traditionally celebrate in the dusk and dark: Halloween!
But why are a group of 13 engaged in a battle with creepy crawlies in the Antarctic, you may ask? For the sake of furthering spaceflight, of course.
Because of its seclusion, Concordia offers scientists a unique location to conduct research far from civilisation in many disciplines.
Besides studies into climate change and glaciology, Earth’s atmosphere and a pollution free look at the stars, the inhospitable conditions around Concordia make living there similar to living on another planet. The base is an ideal place to study the effects on small, multicultural teams isolated for long periods in an extreme, hostile environment.
ESA sponsors a medical research doctor in Concordia every winter to study the long-term effects of isolation. Understanding how our bodies and minds adapt to extreme environments will help to overcome the challenges of long flights aboard the International Space Station and beyond.
Which brings us back to adults running around in the bitter cold fighting off cardboard monsters.
Planning social activities like this may seem like a waste of time but in reality this is an essential part of life at Concordia for the crew’s overall mental health and well-being.
The extreme environment of Antarctica – cold temperatures, altitude, and isolation – wreaks havoc on the human body and mind. The crew report feeling forever sleepy and suffering from insomnia, depression, and confusion. Compounding this are being in close quarters with a crew you’ve only recently met and the limited privacy of a relatively confined space.
To maintain morale and foster social teamwork, the crew make sure to celebrate holidays. For Halloween, they brainstormed this idea of creatures invading Concordia, created the props, went to great lengths to hang them up in the station on a windy Antarctic day, and had some fun posing for photos.
Let’s join them! Can you spot 5 differences in the images below? We’ll post the answers later on social media.