Cloudy Antarctic skies obscured a view of the first sunrise the team at Concordia Research station has seen in months. The base is located on a plateau 3200 m above sea level, at the very southern tip of Earth. The Sun does not rise above the horizon in the winter (May to August). The crew has been living without sunlight for the past four months and has experienced temperatures in the low –80°C.
This has meant a very structured life for Concordia residents, centred on social moments such as daily meals. Crewmembers can phone internationally and Internet is available but many start to feel disconnected from their contacts at home.
Once past the longest night in the world, things start to get brighter as the Sun rises near the horizon. The first sunrise is always a remarkable moment. From then on the winter crew start preparing for summer and the return of the summer scientists (November). The base is cleaned thoroughly, machinery is serviced, tents are erected and heated, and the runway is cleared of snow. Extensive work is required to welcome the new arrivals back to the base at the end of the world.
But the current crew will have to wait for the skies to clear to experience their sunrise. This image was captured by ESA's medical doctor in residence Carole Dangoisse.