Saturday, October 16, 2010

Adrift in the Arctic to prove Russia’s claim

A team of Russian scientists have begun a year-long expedition, drifting on an ice floe in the North Pole. Their aim is to prove Russia’s claim to the resources of the Arctic.

”The task is to prove it scientifically, that Russia's continental shelf goes far beyond its northern shores, that it ends up deep in the Arctic. This is the primary task,” said presidential envoy to the North and South Poles, Artur Chilingarov.
The members of the epic North Pole-38 expedition received a warm goodbye as they drifted off on their tough and lonely mission in the northern Chukchi Sea on Friday.

The 15-strong team, most of them in their 20s, will carry out dozens of experiments in the fierce winter. As well as studying the continental shelf, they will try to shed light on why the Arctic ice caps are melting and how rich the region is, in gas and oil deposits.
Chilingarov said the first telegrams sent from the new station were to the President and the Prime Minister, who are personally tracking all the latest news from the team. Further updates to the mainland will be sent by the head of the station, Tomash Petrovsky.
With over two dozen polar expeditions under his belt, Petrovsky will supervise the unloading and construction of the floating station.
”We will start with equipping our houses, with all the necessary amenities, with electricity. Then we will build a traditional canteen. But this at the end, when we’ve done the rest,” he said.
The youngest member of the expedition is the cook Dmitry Mitkovets. He promised his colleagues the menu of his Arctic restaurant will be rich and diverse. He showed RT a warm storage where the food will be kept.
“The products that should not be exposed to frost are here – vegetables, canned food, tea…. candies, cookies, pastries, groceries – everything, absolutely everything,” he said.
The electrician, Sergey Chernyaev is the oldest. He says this expedition is his dream come true and younger team members do not even realize how lucky they are to be part of such a thrilling adventure.
“For 20 years I had been trying to get here, you wouldn't believe it,” he said. “I had written countless letters to various institutions but they would tell me ‘You are a 30-year-old railroad worker. Stay where you are, you are too old for us!’ Now I am 50 and I am here.”
On Friday as dusk fell, fireworks marked the official beginning of the mission. The Russian flag was hoisted and the «Rossiya» icebreaker, which carried the men to the Arctic, is now heading for the mainland, leaving the 15 men face to face with the severe Arctic night.

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