Four months of total darkness. Temperatures as low as -80°C. ESA seeks a doctor for its base in Antarctica

That famous Alaskan doctor doesn’t even come close to the real conditions that the doctor who enters the Concordia mission will experience, of working in the most isolated and coldest place occupied by man. Everything is for science.

ESA’s announcement recalls one of the most exciting stories in human exploration. One of those legends with so much epic that, even if it’s not true, it deserves to be. The story goes that the most fanned explorer in history, Sir Ernest Shackleton, placed an ad in the press in 1914 to recruit a team to go to Antarctica and got over 5,000 entries! Shackleton’s ad was this:

“Men are wanted for a dangerous journey. Reduced pay. Frost. Long months in complete darkness. Constant danger. It’s doubtful they can return safely. In case of success, they will receive honors and recognition”.

Shackleton probably never made that announcement (which has not been found), but his Antarctic expedition turned out to be one of the greatest lessons in human leadership, survival, and memory enhancement.

The ESA announcement about seeking a doctor is real.

Applications are now open for the ESA-sponsored medical research position at the Concordia research station in Antarctica for the winter of 2023.

At the job offer, ESA He asks for a medical degree, an interest in space exploration, and the courage to spend nearly a year isolated in the world’s greatest desert. On here you can apply for a job.

The Blank Backdrop

Located on the mountainous plateau called Dome C in Antarctica, the Franco-Italian base is one of only three inhabited throughout the year.

Between the extreme altitude – 3233 m above sea level means the crew experiences chronic hypobaric hypoxia or lack of oxygen to the brain – four months of total darkness during winter and temperatures as low as -80 °C, the base is a fertile soil for investigating the effects of isolated, confined and extreme environments on the human body and mind.

For this reason, every year the ESA sponsors a physician to oversee biomedical experiments at the base.

2021 Winter Doctor Nick Smith from the UK is back home after a successful year in Antarctica. In his place is Hannes Hagson from Sweden. He arrived with his team of 12 in early November and will oversee research into how isolation alters people’s brains, sleep and immune systems.

summer in december

Concordia is currently in the summer season. About 60 researchers visit the station to check equipment, configure sensors and conduct experiments for a few weeks. The last member of the summer crew is due to depart in February, and then isolation begins. The 13-member crew will spend the next nine months together and isolated as the sunlight dims and disappears completely.


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