Step to the Stars – our future in space starts on Earth

Embark on a journey to the end of the world…
As a step on the journey beyond Earth

 
Medical doctor Beth Healey had the chance to live the adventure of a lifetime. The European Space Agency offered her to travel to Antarctica and spend over a year at the Concordia station. Mission: to conduct research experiments on the international crew for future human spaceflight missions.
 
But months of isolation, darkness and extreme cold, with no rescue possible even in the case of an emergency, is a test for anyone…
 
Follow the story of Beth as she travels to the end of the world and faces a full Antarctic winter, makes new friends and unexpected encounters and has to overcome not only the cold and darkness of the long polar night, but her own inner fears.

Step by step, humankind expands its presence, reaching for the stars.

Prologue

It is a question of time. One day the ship will blast off, taking a human crew on a journey through space to the planet Mars. Step by step, humankind expands its presence beyond the surface of...

Beth Healey – a polar scientist

Part 1. The Induction

Some things change you forever. They put your life on a trajectory you had never planned, different from those of all your friends – and you are propelled into adventure. I was just a young girl growing...

Basler plane and mountain peaks. Credits: British Antarctic Survey

Part 2. The Arrival

As the plane roared off from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, I realised with excitement and a little trepidation that our Antarctic adventure was finally taking off as well. We flew down via Singapore to New Zealand,...

Beth Healey with an EPICA ice core. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA

Part 3. White Mars

I had travelled across the world to come to my new home, Concordia Station. Now I had to get to know the place, how things worked here, and find my place among its crew. They made up...

A view from outside Concordia station. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA–F. van den Berg

Part 4. Dark Mars

  When winter comes to Concordia you’d better be prepared. Before us were nine months of complete isolation, four of these in constant darkness as the sun would never rise above the horizon. It was a busy...

I could not help wondering what worlds might be out there. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA–B. Healey

Part 5. Dark Mars (continued)

To get out of my dark mood of semi-hibernation I tried to motivate myself to go to the gym. In the end my trainers did not leave my bedroom nearly as often as I had hoped but...

Beth driving the caterpillar Challenger tractor. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA–B. Healey

Part 6. The traverse

Seeing the sun after those four months of constant darkness was an instant energiser. I got a new understanding of its power and why it holds such an important place in many cultures across the world and...

Part 7. The homecoming

Concordia felt like a different place to that I had called home just a few weeks before. It was the height of summer, so the station was really busy. Decorations from celebrations I had not been part...