Text and pictures © 2005-2014 Guillaume Dargaud
Last updated on 2012/12/11
"— Do you have a depilatory machine ?
— No, but I could decide to fall down the stairs like you." — Claire answering Michel, about a recent fall where he left a hefty amount of skin...
Maybe I should have done this before the winterover almost finished, but here's a tour of Concordia done with 360° panoramas. If you have a large screen, set you browser window to full width for better enjoyment. This is a large page with large images, so if an images doesn't load, just right-click it and do [Show Image] to force a manual reload.
Those images were done with Roberto's D70 camera and my 8mm fisheye lens on a tripod. The camera was moved back with a adjustment plate so that the rotation axis would coincide with the nodal point of the camera. I took 6 shots horizontally and sometimes two additional ones pointing up and down. The images were then deformed with a custom software and assembled in Paint Shop Pro. All those panoramas are 360° horizontal with 120° vertical field of view. Some are even 180° vertical fullframe. I truncated them for this page but I can make PhiloSpheres or full spherical Java animations with them. It's just easier to watch them like this, even if it takes a little habit. I hope they give you a sense of what it's like to truly be at Concordia.
Above: Night panorama of Concordia taken below the main stairs, in the small plaza between the station, the power plant (smoking red containers) and the food and garbage containers.
Above: Panorama of Concordia taken from the top of the many fuel tanks. The tanks are kept heated throughout the winter to keep the antifreeze fuel from freezing up (yes, you read that right). The raised orange tank in the middle is the water recycling plant, sitting on top of the power plant.
Above: A telescope near the base of the ConcordiAstro platform, where another telescope sits. The platform in the back is unused this year.
Above: Excerpt from a spherical panorama taken below the ConcordiAstro platform.
Above: Emanuele ready to launch a weather forecast balloon in the weak spring light, before the garage tent. The summer camp is barely visible half a km right behind him.
Above: Michel in the tent used for multiple purpose: as garage for the large Caterpillar and the few snowmachines useless in winter (hidden behind), as woodworking shed and as weather balloon inflation shed. The helium bottles are out of view behind the Cat as well but we inflate in the small space between the doors and the Cat.
Above: The CR23 mast and its small shelter where I can hide to try and download the data acquired during the winter. The mast measures the gradient of various atmosphere physics parameters between the ground and about 12 meters. Concordia is just north, below the sun, about a km away.
Above: Michel cutting wood with a chainsaw right below Concordia, next to the garage, where the wind chill is the fiercest because of the Venturi effect. The radiator of the summer camp power plant lays on the left before the food and garbage containers.
Above: Michel working on creating a snowmachine parking structure, where electric plugs can be reached easily to keep the engines warm in summer. This time, if people forget to unplug when running off with a snowmachine, they either won't manage to bring down the structure like the much lighter one at the summer camp, or won't survive to tell about it...
Above: Panorama taken from the roof of the tunnel linking the first floors of both buildings (noisy on left, quiet on right). Michel is right on the stairs below after having helped me climb on the slippery tunnel and Emanuele is on the plaza, just coming back from storing his snow samples in the container on the left. Notice all the stickers still on the windows, like the average construction site, except that with the cold it now impossible to remove them.
Above: The tunnel carved in snow and leading to the underground seismometers. First shot with the lights on. Notice the primitive pictographs left on the walls by the friendly locals.
Above: The same tunnel this time with the lights off. Since it's only a few meters underground, some of the sunlight manages to get through, mainly the shortest wavelength, giving a kind of nightclubish-UV style. It's still very dark, each shot of the pano having required 30s exposure. Since humidity forms a cloud very quickly in this tunnel I had to try not to breath while waiting.
Above: Most important element of the station, the power plant and its three generators supervised by Christophe. The generators themselves are the yellow devices visible behind their large vertical metallic exhaust pipes. The door to the workshop is right behind him. The power plant was initially planned to be in the noisy building where the backup generator is, but then lack of space and fire hazard made it so that an extra set of large containers was added next to the station.
Above: Christophe in the workshop next to the power plant (door in the middle). The boiler room and one of the station exits are on the far right and the stairs lead up to the water recycling system and the rest of the station.
Above: Christophe in the boiler room, on the same level than the workshop and the power plant. The door in the center is the only exit of Concordia located on the ground floor.
Above: Claire's head sticking out of one of the water recycling tanks, with Christophe helping her out to clean the tank from all the goo accumulated after 6 months of activity. This system recycles only what we call 'grey' water, that is any water what doesn't contain urine or feces (aka 'black' water). In a year or so another part of the system will be added to recycle also the black water and then the station will be self sufficient. And indeed the designer of this system is the European Space Agency and they develop it with space missions in mind, where the recycling will need to be complete. The door is hidden behind Christophe.
Above: Jean and Stef in the corridor joining the power plant (behind Stef) and the noisy building (behind Jean). Since the black water recycling system is not yet operational, a temporary set of urinals has been installed right in the corridor, with its output flowing and freezing in a cardboard tank below. The door between both characters is the least used of the 4 exits of the station.
Above: Noisy building, 1st floor. Jeff in the backup generator room, preparing air conditioning ducts before installing them in one of the double ceilings or technical shafts. This generator gets started at once if there is a power outage. The door on the left leads to the garbage room, the corridor hidden behind the water tank on the left of Jeff leads to the power plant, and the blue door on his left leads to the rest of the station.
Above: Jean and Stef applying the 'Mondo' tiles to the 1st floor of the noisy building. The door on the left leads to the incinolet toilets and the washing machines, the corridor behind Stef leads to the backup generator and the power plant and the corridor on the right leads to the quiet building. The stairs lead up to the gym, food storage and restaurant. Right of the stairs is the station leader office. And farther right is one of the mighty hydraulic feet of the station.
Above: Claire sweeping the garbage room floor, located next to the emergency generator room (door on the left). The blue door is the freight elevator, the red door hides the very narrow emergency stairs and the door on the right goes to the fat decantation vats, the first leg of the water recycling system. The two green machines are compressors for plastic and paper while the weirdly shaped other green machine, dubbed the rhinoceros, crushes cans.
Above: This is the main workshop where all kind of technical activities are performed. Here Jeff, Michel and Roberto having a drink after the spring cleaning session.
Above: Jeff drilling an air conditioning hole from inside the double ceiling between 1st and 2nd floor. This one is much more spacious than the very low ceiling between 2nd and 3rd floor, but still, spending 6 months working in there is no way to enjoy a winterover.
Above: The medical lab (left), dentist chair (center) and pharmacy room (right), with a proud doctor showing off where I drill him regularly... The blue door in the center is where one of the hydraulic feet used to raise the station is hidden, the door on the left leads to the surgery room, and the exit to the rest of the building is behind Roberto.
Above: Roberto on the cutting board of the surgery room. The dentist chair is visible through the door on the right.
Above: Roberto in the infirmary room. That's where we get our regular checkups: weight, pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, etc...
Above: Not yet paved, the email and computer room also acts as storage and coffee room. One of the large hydraulic foot of the station is clearly visible in the center of the room. With Michel at the keyboard, Roberto with his medical bible in hand and Emanuele coming for a closer look.
Above: Only bedrooms on the 2nd floor of the quiet building. 16 bedrooms all around the floor, with in the middle the stairs (left) and the bathroom (right). With Jeff watching and Emanuele in his room.
Above: View from the inside of one of the cleanest bedrooms: Emanuele's. The bunk bed folds up in winter as we are 13 for 18 bedrooms (there's also the doctor's bedroom and the engineer's bedroom located on the 1st floor). All the furniture is custom design to fit the 200° angle between the walls (360° divided by 16 bedrooms plus two empty ones used for storage).
Above: Roberto performing a Mistacoba air sampling with an electrical pump in a messy videoconferencing room, on the 3rd floor of the quiet building. Hmmm, looks like he didn't appreciate the french flag !
Above: Also on the 3rd floor of the quiet building, the radio communication room where all the Inmarsat, Irridium and old-fashioned radio systems are located, as well as the mail servers and the local domain server. With Pascal in charge.
Above: Emanuele in his glaciology laboratory, extracting filters under the 'clean air hood'.
Above: Another view of the glaciology laboratory on the 3rd floor of the quiet building.
Above: Karim, Karim, Karim, Karim, Karim and Karim in the astronomy laboratory.
Above: Myself in the atmospheric science laboratory, which is also where Pascal has his seismology acquisition. Part of the lab is empty and it will be divided up in two during the coming summer campaign.
Above: The office of the technical manager (Claire, left) and station leader (Michel, right). Let's hope the walls of documentation won't collapse on them.
Above: The gym room, best way to spend calories when you are not outside trying to fix something through 3 pairs of gloves. Pascal doing the heavy lifting and Claire doing the heavy breathing... Located on the 2nd floor of the noisy building.
Above: Roberto, Claire and Michel watching the usual weekly movie in the video room (2nd floor, next to the gym).
Above: Jean-Louis picking items in the 'dry' food storage room (the wine is at the very end). There are two additional storage rooms on the same floor: the 4°C room where perishables are stored and the future freezer room, not yet built that's why we simply keep frozen products outside the station in simple containers.
Above: Aperitif time in the kitchen where Roberto, Emanuele, Michel, Michel and Pascal are having a close look at what Jean-Louis is preparing, glass in hand. Third floor of the noisy building and lifeline of the station.
Above: Pascal walking into the bar while Michel is pouring himself a drink and Michel, Stef and Jeff are already enjoying their drink at the table. Right behind Jean is the yet unmounted evacuation system. The dining room is behind the central door.
Above: The 13 members of the winterover team around the traditional common table for the sunday lunch. The tables and chairs where we eat during the rest of the week are in the back; yeah that's too much room for only 13 people, but there's plenty more people in summer. Like my mother said: "You should have sat in the middle and played some famous guy with his 12 apostles..."
And now, let's conclude the winterover...