'Extreme environment': Antarctica goes dark for four months as 'long night' begins

Edited By: Sayan Ghosh
New Delhi, India Updated: May 16, 2022, 02:16 PM(IST)

Antarctica during dawn Photograph:( AFP )

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The isolation and extreme temperatures in the region may feel intimidating to most people but it also presents a special opportunity for astronauts to prepare for their space missions and practice living in some of the harder conditions on earth.

Imagine four months without any sunlight – That is the reality for Antarctica as it entered the ‘long night’ period with the final sunset on May 13. The isolation and extreme temperatures in the region may feel intimidating to most people but it also presents a special opportunity for astronauts to prepare for their space missions and practice living in some of the harder conditions on earth. With no sunlight and harsh conditions, these four months are perfect for their grueling training.

Although most places around the world experience four major seasons, there are only two – summer and winter – when it comes to Antarctica. The coldest continent in the earth experiences sunlight for six months while the other part of the year is spent in complete darkness.

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Concordia, the remotest base in Antarctica, will once again be the base for the 12-member team from the European Space Agency (ESA) who will live and work in isolation. The mission for the crew will be to conduct various experiments to understand how the harsh conditions affect humans.

“From sleep studies to gut health measurements to mindful practices, the crew are poked and prodded to help researchers understand and overcome the challenges extreme environments, like space, pose to present and future explorers,” the ESA said on its official website.

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The Concordia station will also not be receiving any more resources from outside as the last supplies flight visited Antarctica in February. In theory, the base is currently stocked up for at least nine months and the temperatures are expected to drop to nearly -80 degrees Celsius. 

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