India’s maiden scientific team reaches South Pole

Monday, November 22, 2010

NEW DELHI - After traversing over 2,350 km in nine days, India’s first scientific expedition team to the South Pole planted the Indian flag at the earth’s southernmost point Monday afternoon.

The eight-member team reached South Pole at 4 p.m. Monday India time.

“The Indian flag has been hoisted at the South Pole,” the director of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research and leader of the expedition, Rasik Ravindran told reporters over phone.

“It is snow outside everywhere. We are feeling good and feel at the top of the world, through geographically we are at the bottom of the world,” he said, adding the outside temperature was minus 70 degrees Celsius, much colder than expected.

The team, consisting of a geologist, glaciologist, geophysicist and a meteorologist as well as vehicle engineers, had left Maitri, India’s second permanent research station on the Antarctica, on Nov 13.

The expedition travelled on four specialised arctic truck vehicles, which did face slight problems due to the intense cold temperatures. “We had a little problem with radiators and axles of the vehicles, which we replaced on the way,” said 62-year-old Ravindran.

Each of these vehicle, besides its human baggage, carried special gears, emergency medical kit, frozen food, and navigational and scientific instruments.

A fuel dump at 83 degrees south latitude was used for refuelling the trucks.

The scientists conducted five experiments during the journey. “All five experiments which were designed for this expedition have been performed well,” said Ravindran.

The secretary, ministry of earth sciences, Shailesh Nayak said Monday that the expedition was essential to establish correlation between the Indian Ocean and its cold and warm areas, which are controlled by the Antarctic region. “This is important because it affects our monsoon,” he said.

Filed under: Science and Technology

will not be displayed