Doctor Evangelos Kaimakamis is the only Greek to participate in the innovative project of the European Space Agency (ESA), at the Concordia base, Antarctic, according to a report cited in the Eleftheros Tipos Journal.
It took quite a while to get there though, after what he called a “really long and tiring journey that took me from my home country, Greece, via Frankfurt, Singapore, Sydney, Christchurch in New Zealand to McMurdo base in Antarctica.”
“From there my journey continued to Terra Nova base, where I stayed for a week due to weather conditions. Now I have finally arrived at Concordia base! During the last nine days I accumulated 35 flight hours – the last few hours where on aircraft with skis landing on snowstrips in the middle of nowhere,” he stated to ESA website.
For all that his summer is spent in temperatures of -33 degrees Celsius (-27.4 Fahrenheit) with the sun not setting until 4 a.m. over the South Pole. “It is impossible not to sense the cold when geting off the plane” he said. Kaimakamis is one of the 10,000 scientists who registered in ESA for the staffing of Concordia.
“Another amazing fact (at least for someone coming from a Mediterranean country) is that the sun never sets during the day at this time of year. You can go out for a walk in broad daylight at 4 am! Presently the station is a beehive of more than 50 people living and performing their tasks, but from the beginning of February only 15 people will stay here until the end of the year,” Kaimakamis said.
“Concordia is one of the most appropriate places on Earth to simulate bases on other planets such as the moon or Mars and conclusions drawn here from biomedical experiments can help astronauts in future space missions but also people living and working in extreme and confined places on our planet,” he said.
He added: “This is why every year ESA sponsors a research medical doctor to be part of the winter-over crew at Concordia and study the effects of all these adverse parameters to the human body and mind. This year I have the honor and responsibility to be part of this research campaign and get a little taste of the life of the original Antarctic explorers. So here I am standing some tens of thousands of kilometers away from my home and family, making new friends, living in a continent of excessive beauty and wilderness and feeling a bit out of our planet as I used to contemplate it.”