Monday, July 4

There are two people traveling thousands of kilometers in Antarctica at -30ºC and it makes sense if we think about conquering Mars

So extreme, so harsh, so raw and inhospitable, so starkly unforgiving they are the conditions encountered by explorers in AntarcticaBefore embarking on the adventure of crossing vast frozen regions loaded with kilos on their backs and in the middle of a nightmare weather, most of them try to train as best they can.

There are, for example, those who go to the beach with a tractor wheel, tie it around their waist with a rope, and go up and down the sandy areas. Surprisingly enough, for a couple of weeks there have been two Brits, Justin Packshaw, 57, and Jamie Facer Childs, 37, which in a way they are crossing the Antarctic continent as a “training”. Perhaps not for a mission that they are going to star themselves, but to collect data that will allow other explorers to expand their chances of success. What mission is that so hard and extreme that the southern region takes as a test bed? Simple: the conquest of mars.

Investigate your own meats

The objective of Packshaw and Childs is to use their own skins to check – and, incidentally, show scientists – how the human organism responds to extreme conditions such as those in Antarctica or those that will be encountered tomorrow –when, exactly, is today anyone’s guess– the astronauts who star the first manned mission to the red planet.

“Like the extreme conditions found on the planets in our Solar System, Antarctica has an austere environment that is useful for a variety of biological and human investigationsranging from isolation, microbial research, immunology and much more ”, explains the official website of the mission, christened “Chasing the Light Antarctica 2021”. Among other valuable data that can be used for future Martian explorations, the program will allow scientists to analyze how humans adapt and collect genomic, physiological, psychological or environmental data. Objective: expand the arsenal of information.

The expedition started several weeks ago and, according to the explorers on their website, accumulates 1,083 kilometers of crossing. Another 2,567 remain pending to reach 3,650. As detailed by Live Science, the initial objective was to cover an even wider strip that reached the south pole of inaccessibility, one of the most inhospitable regions of the continent and that would demand a remarkable effort from the team. The snow and the winds, however, forced them to adjust their plans. “This continent demands respect and flexibility, as you can be sure that nothing will go according to plan,” commented Packshaw on day 25 of the crossing. On its page, the goal of adding 4,200 kilometers over 80 days is still detailed.

Even if work with NASA, Stanford University and the European Space Agency (ESA)Throughout their expedition, Packshaw and Childs cannot receive any assistance. To cover their demanding journey, they will travel on foot and with kites that allow them to take advantage of the momentum of the strong gusts of Antarctic wind. The journey, of course, is not easy, neither physically, nor psychologically, nor, of course, logistically. In one of the last comments posted on the web, Packshaw explains, for example, how much streaks can complicate the mission.

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“We have had a long day with strong wind that, unfortunately, not coming in the right direction for our heading south. Many turns. We must have done a lot of kilometers, but unfortunately only 32 to where we wanted to go ”, explains the British explorer. During that day, for example, the streaks that the couple takes advantage of to move with their nine meter kites they reached between 40 and 50 kilometers per hour.

In la web de Chasing the Light Antarctica 2021 even some parameters of the adventurers can be tracked, such as their pulse, the calories they have burned, your sleep hours or even stress level. Also the conditions of Antarctica, which at the time of writing this article, when the team had advanced 1,083 kilometers, marked -34 º C. As part of their mission, the couple also collects data for ESA on radiation levels, the speed and direction of the surface wind, temperature gradients or the state of the Antarctic ice.

Antarctica Hasn't Always Been the Freezing Region We Know Today: Researchers Explain Why and When It Froze

As detailed by Smihsonian Magazine, the adventurer couple tow two sleds of around 200 kilos in which they carry food, scientific instruments and the samples of blood, saliva, urine and feces that they collect during the journey. All in freezing, windswept temperatures. They may seem like harsh conditions, but they fall short when compared to -50 degrees below zero that –as collected by the IAC– mark the daily average on its surface.

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