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New Zealand’s 60th Antarctic research season is underway

Touch down! New Zealand’s 60th Antarctic research season is underway

Following a weekend of Antarctic themed activities in Christchurch, the 2016/17 New Zealand Antarctic research season has kicked off with the departure of the first flight south this morning.

At 9:04am the roar of the US Airforce C-17 Globemaster echoed through the skies of Christchurch as the aircraft took off with 116 passengers on-board, 18 of them Kiwi’s heading down to support New Zealand’s science programme from Scott Base. A further 20 Antarctica New Zealand staff will head south tomorrow.

Loaded with 49,800lbs of passengers and their gear, the flight landed just after 2pm, a flight time of 5 hours. Despite being overcast with a 30knot wind, the team were met with a very mild -14°C.

With more than half of those travelling today being first-time Antarcticans, a full welcome party made up of the Scott Base winter-over crew was on hand to meet the plane at Pegasus Runway.

After spending an intensive week with the New Zealand Fire Service in Christchurch, our team will put their fire training and emergency triage skills into practise in full scale simulations over the next two weeks in Antarctica. The temperatures could be as cold as -35°C making these activities a little more challenging than anything they have done in the past.

Science teams will being arriving at Scott Base in two weeks for another ambitious research season which will take New Zealand operations across the full expanse of the Ross Dependency.

The 2016/17 Antarctic research season marks 60 years since Sir Edmund Hillary and his team built the Trans-Antarctic Hut, and the New Zealand’s Antarctic research programme began. A range of activities are planned to celebrate the event in January 2017.

Over the next five months Scott Base is expected to host around 350 people to study the area, support research or communicate our science. Only around 10 people will continue through the winter months fulfilling a 13-month contract.

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