Sibal lays foundation stone of research base in Antarctica

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New Delhi, Jan 11 (PTI) India today announced that it hadbegun construction work on its third research station in theAntarctic region for undertaking multi-disciplinary studies onvarious subjects, including climate change.

Earth Sciences Minister Kapil Sibal today laid thefoundation stone for the research station -- named ''Bharati''-- here and interacted by telephone with scientists andtechnicians engaged in construction work in Antarctica.

Sibal also said that existing research station ''Maitri''will be refurbished and equipped with modern facilities.

"We expect the station to be operational by next year," hesaid stressing on greater presence of Indian scientists onthe icy continent.

The research facility will also have earth station, to bebuilt by ISRO, for enabling faster sharing of informationgathered from satellites and ground laboratories withinstitutions back home.

It would give faster access to weather scientists tovarious climatic observations and is expected to lead tobetter forecasts.

Once operational, the earth station will also helpresearchers in enhancing capabilities of Indian polar orbitingsatellites.

Earlier, a team of scientists who returned from India''sfirst scientific expedition to the geographic South Poleshared experiences of their 18-day to and fro journey fromMaitri in Antarctica.

The team led by Rasik Ravindra, Director of the NationalCentre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), had leftMaitri on November 13, 2010 and planted the Indian flag atSouth Pole on November 22.

The team met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday andapprised him of their achievement.

The 8-member team travelled 4,400 km distance betweenMaitri and South Pole in Arctic trucks braving the difficultweather conditions and traversing the tough terrain withsnow-capped sharp razor-edged hills up to two meters inheight.

The real test for eight-member team of scientists andtechnicians was not braving the sub-zero temperatures butroutine jobs like cooking food and consuming it while hot.

"We were carrying ready-to-eat meals with us but we had toput them in boiling water for cooking, and boiling water intemperature as low as minus 50 was tough," Ravindra said.

The expedition travelled on four specialised Arctic trucksand each of these vehicles, besides its human baggage, carriedspecial gears, emergency medical kit, frozen food, andnavigational and scientific instruments.

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