Indian scientists traversed shortest path to South PoleJanuary 11th, 2011 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) Braving temperatures as low as minus 54 degrees Celsius and navigating jagged sharp ice hills, India’s first scientific expedition team to the South Pole took a different but short route to reach the earth’s southernmost point - in just eight days. The path has never been tried before by any other country, the scientists said.The team led by Rasik Ravindra, director of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), had left Maitri, India’s second permanent research station on the Antarctica, on Nov 13, 2010 and planted the Indian flag at South Pole on Nov 22. The team met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday and apprised him about their achievement.
The eight-member team travelled 2,350 km distance (one side) between Maitri, and South Pole in arctic trucks braving the difficult weather conditions and traversing the tough terrain with snow-capped sharp razor-edged hills of 1-2 metre height.
“It was a great experience to be part of the maiden science expedition to South Pole. The interesting part was that we took the shortest route which nobody else has tried, to reach the South Pole in just eight days,” 62-year-old Ravindra told reporters Tuesday.
According to Ravindra, they were asked by the Norwegian and US scientists to take a usually travelled curved route but the team decided to rather take a straight and short route to reach the southernmost tip.
The team, consisting of a geologist, glaciologist, geophysicist and a meteorologist as well as vehicle engineers, collected valuable data to study the impact of global warming on Antarctica. However, it will take four-five months before they come out with the findings.
“We collected ice cores at regular interval during the expedition for study of variability of snow accumulation and characteristics, and made short traverses by ground penetrating radar along the route for understanding bed rock topography, and did study of glacial-geomorphological landforms and meteorological data along the path,” said Thamban Meloth, scientist NCAOR.
The expedition travelled on four specialised arctic truck vehicles, which did face some problems due to the intense cold.
“We had a little problem with radiators, shockers and axles of the vehicles, which we replaced on the way,” said K. Krishnamoorthi, mechanic and electrician from NCAOR.
Each of these vehicle, besides its human baggage, carried special gears, emergency medical kit, frozen food, and navigational and scientific instruments.
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