600 km from any habitation or living beings, Concordia research base in Antarctica is one of the remotest places on Earth.
The base consists of two towers connected by an enclosed walkway. The station is quite large at 1500 m² for up to 16 people, nearly 100 m² per person. Activities in the towers are separated into noisy and quiet. Spread over three levels, the restaurant, social rooms, gym and workshops are in the ‘noisy’ tower, whereas the laboratories, sleeping quarters, hospital and radio rooms are in the ‘quiet’ tower.
The base is powered by three generators that supply electricity and heat to keep the –80°C temperatures at bay. The generators run in pairs with one available as back-up – out here, you don’t want to run out of electricity or heating. The diesel that powers the generators itself needs to be heated to prevent it freezing.
Water from washing and cooking is recycled as much as possible using a unit based on knowledge from ESA’s life support team.
For drinking and cooking, snow from a protected area is melted into water. As this water contains few minerals the Concordia chef needs to take this into account when preparing meals.
ESA sponsors a research medical doctor each year to study the effects of living in isolation. The extreme cold, isolation, sensory deprivation and remoteness make living in Concordia similar to living on another planet.