Dr. Nadja Albertsen is the ESA-sponsored medical doctor spending 12 months at Concordia research station in Antarctica. She facilitates a number of experiments on the effects of isolation, light deprivation, and extreme temperatures on the human body and mind.
Sunday morning, 10:00. The base is quiet, like all Sundays. It’s the only day off, unless a holiday lands during the workweek.
People sleep in or relax. Someone, possibly Danish and wearing ski underwear, sunflower-print pajamas, and a down vest, reads scientific articles and enjoys an almost undisturbed internet connection.
Darkness engulfs the base. A look out the window reveals absolutely nothing, neither snow nor sky. The only visible light is a red lamp from one of the shelters close to the base; otherwise, blackness.
Winter darkness. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA: N. Albertsen
It’s been a month since the sun last went done, or last got up, if you prefer. The days following were marked by the spectacular night sky and a rather persistent hunt for Southern Lights, which we just managed to see. Concordia is not the best place for that kind of thing (but of course, we do not give up!).
Then the night sky was spoiled by a spectacular ...