Science & Exploration

Living in Concordia

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Concordia

Life in Concordia can be divided into four seasons even though the weather in Concordia hardly changes all year. The seasons in Concordia are linked to sunlight and routines. As the Sun disappears completely during the winter, social events such as evening meals or birthday celebrations become important to help keep track of time.

Bright and busy summer: November to February 

During the Antarctic summer the base is awash with over 60 scientists and technicians performing science and maintenance in preparation for the winter. Many of the summer guests sleep in heated tents near Concordia base.

During this time the Sun never sets below the horizon and aircraft arrive on an almost daily basis.

Failing Sun: March to May

By February all but a handful of people will have left, leaving a skeleton crew on the base to fend for themselves. The base can hold 16 but needs a technical manager, chef, doctor, communications technician, plumber, mechanic and an electrician to function safely. Empty beds can be filled by scientists of all disciplines.

This is a period of adjustment for the crew, getting to know each other and preparing for the onset of winter.

The long darkness: May to August

Winter proper arrives shortly after Easter with over four months of darkness, cold temperatures and no chance of rescue in an emergency. 

Life becomes very structured, 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.

The Sun reborn: September to November

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.

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.

Around November the first aircraft can land safely at Concordia base, bringing with it the welcome cargo of fresh fruit and food.

Adapting to the arrival of new faces is not as easy as it might seem. After living around nine months in isolation in a tight group, it can take some getting used to the new arrivals and their different practices.

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