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39th expedition  in Antarctica credits @PNRR

Antarctica: Italy’s 39th expedition kicks off

The mission, managed by the Cnr, ENEA and OGS as part of the National Antarctic Research Program (PNRA), involves around 130 researchers and technicians with the support of Armed Forces personnel.

The 39th Italian scientific expedition to Antarctica began with the opening of the "Mario Zucchelli" station in Terra Nova Bay. The summer campaign, lasting over 4 months, will involve about 130 researchers and technicians working on 31 research projects on atmospheric sciences, geology, paleoclimate, biology, oceanography and astronomy.

The Italian missions in Antarctica, funded by the Ministry of University and Research (MUR) as part of the National Antarctic Research Program (PNRA), are managed by the Cnr for scientific coordination, ENEA for logistical planning of the activities at the Antarctic bases and the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics (OGS) for the operational and scientific management of the icebreaker Laura Bassi.

The Armed Forces participate in the expedition with 16 military experts from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri providing support in the field to the researchers throughout the entire expedition. The Defense specialists, within the area of competency, will support the following PNRA activities: external campaigns, naval and underwater activities, helicopter and aircraft operations, weather forecasts and completion of a land runway. Furthermore, the Air Force will ensure connections between Christchurch (New Zealand) and the Italian "Zucchelli" station, or the US station of McMurdo, with approximately 36 units and a C-130J aircraft of the 46th Air Brigade, transporting materials, equipment and personnel.

In addition to the "Zucchelli" base, the research activities will also take place at the Italian-French Concordia station and on board the Laura Bassi vessel. The icebreaker will arrive in New Zealand on January 2 and then head to Antarctica on January 5 with 36 researchers and technologists on board and a sailing crew of 21 members. For the first time the mission will be shared with the New Zealand Antarctic project to which 12 of the 36 researchers belong. The ship will circumnavigate the entire Ross Sea and conclude its Antarctic mission within 60 days, in March 2024.

The new summer research season at the Concordia base, on the Antarctic plateau at over 3,000 meters above sea level and 1,200 kilometers from the coast, will start in early November and involve 52 participants including technicians and researchers. From February 2024, once the 2023/2024 summer campaign closes, the activities will be managed by the new winter team, made up of 13 members (5 Italian, 7 French and 1 Swiss), who will remain in complete isolation until November 2024, due to extreme temperatures making the base not accessible. On November 15th the Little Dome C field will open, 35 kilometers from Concordia, where the activities linked to the international project “Beyond Epica Oldest Ice” will continue, funded by the European Commission and coordinated by the Cnr Institute of Polar Sciences (Cnr- Isp) in which also ENEA and Ca' Foscari University of Venice participate for Italy. Ice core drilling will take place at the camp, to gather information on the evolution of temperatures and the composition of the atmosphere, going back over one and a half million years.


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