Mission belge Antarctique 2018

Category: Travelling to Antarctica

Who do you meet in Antarctica?

By Hugues Goosse

I do not want to make general statements as the feeling must be very different in some American bases where more than 1000 persons lives in summer and the Princess Elisabeth Station that can host maximum 50 people.

I can still say safely that we meet much less people than in other places and if you take your snowmobile in the morning to go to the field, even in rush hours, you do not see many other ones.

Skidoo drive along the track of a snow tractor (Photo Sainan Sun)

Skidoo drive along the track of a snow tractor (Photo Sainan Sun)

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Installing the first field camp

by Hugues Goosse

The group has left Princess Elisabeth station after breakfast December 12. For the travel, we were installed in the kitchen we will use on the field.

The team just before leaving the Princess Elisabeth station

As we were sometimes shaken heavily on the rough terrain, all out belongings, the material had to be safely stored and the furniture fixed on the ground.

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How to spend 4 perfect days at Novo air base, Antarctica ?

By Hugues Goosse

The beginning of the trip towards Antarctica was relatively standard: arrival at the airport early in the morning, queuing at the security control, crossing the border, going to the gate. The announcement of the flight was still a bit exotic and the Boeing 757 much more comfortable than the other planes we are used to!

The announcement of our flight at the gate

The plane with the bags containing the polar clothes aligned on the ground

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How to get to Princess Elisabeth Station?

By Hugues Goosse

The Princess Elisabeth Station is located at a latitude of 71° 57′ 00″ South and a longitude of 23° 20′ 51″ East. It is thus more or less at the same longitude as Warsaw, in Poland, but nearly 14 000 km southward.

The easiest way for us to get there is first to fly from Brussels to Cape Town in South Africa. Those first two-thirds of the trip can thus be done using a standard airline company.

Image F. Klein.

The flight to Antarctica is operated by a specialized company. In our case, the Ilyushin 76 TD-90 used by the Antarctic Logistic Centre International (ALCI) will take us first to the Russian base of Novolazarevskaya ( usually called Novo for simplicity) in five and a half hours.

Aerological complex at the Russian Antarctic station Novolazarevskaya. Pic: Tsy1980



Test build and public presentation, September 2007 of Princess Elisabeth Station Pic: Ben2

A second flight of about one hour will finally bring us to Princess Elisabeth Station. Sometimes, when the flight schedule is very busy or weather depending, we might have to spend a few nights at the “Novo “airport” before flying out to Princess Elisabeth Station.

Movie of the plane leaving Novo filmed by Stef Lhermitte in 2017

Why going to Antarctica?

By Hugues Goosse

Satellite view of the region where we will collect observations obtained by Stef Lhermitte using the Sentinel playground https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground

We hope that the previous post has convinced you of the interest of studying Antarctica. However, going there is expensive, time consuming and poses huge logistics problems. Does it really worth the money and the efforts while we have now a large amount of satellite data and numerical models that provide us with a more a more detailed picture of the whole continent?

Unfortunately, satellites cannot observe all the variables. They are able to detect some signals from the surface but cannot estimate subsurface changes or the composition of the snow. Furthermore, satellite sensors can be influenced by many factors. It is thus necessary to compare their observations with the ground truth to calibrate the measurements.

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On the way to Antarctica !

by Jean-Louis Tison and the Mass2Ant team

Our scientific equipment begins a perilous journey to Princess Elisabeth Station: Brussels, Cape Town, Novolazarevskaya, Princess Elisabeth Station! … Our 20 boxes have been consolidated with cargo of the International Polar Foundation (IPF), which manages the logistics and the operation of the Belgian Base. This year we have sent only 600 kg of material .. we travel light! ..

Let’s cross fingers!

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