Antarctica had remained frozen and undisturbed until it was first discovered in 1911 by the Norwegian explorer Ronald Admundsen. Its long historical isolation has since then provided grounds for several scientific observations and inquisitions. Antarctica is home to a stateless civilization but is subject to researching expeditions from around 25 countries at the moment. The research work has ranged from studying the tiniest microscopic organism like ‘diatoms’ to the behavioral evolution of whales; from studying the chemical composition at the depths of the ocean to the study of Ozone hole depletion.
In April 2013, Kato.K.Ayemi, a geologist working with the Geological Survey of India was inducted into a research project under the stewardship of the National Centre for Antarctica and Ocean Research, (NCOAR) Ministry of Earth Sciences. The key focus of the research included the study of the Glaciological Impact of Global warming and the Geographical Reconstruction of the Larsmann Hills.
After being inducted into the research project in April 2013, Kato had to go through a series of pathological and psychological tests to qualify for the extreme conditions that awaited him in Antarctica. After being declared medically fit, he then traveled to the Mountaineering and Skiing Institute Auli, Uttaranchal, for ‘Snow Acclimatization’ training; and then on to Goa for the contingent ‘Fire fighting’ training. Along with being the coldest region in the world, Antarctica is also a really dry place and fire mishaps have often occurred in Antarctica costing lives in the Russian and Brazilian Station. The selected expedition members were then briefed about the Antarctic condition, rules and awareness before departing from Mumbai to Cape Town as most of the logistics to Antarctica is carried out from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia or Argentina.
After months of training and conditioning, the 33rd Indian Scientific touched base in Antarctica on the 14th of November, 2013. At present India has two permanent research stations at Antarctica, Maitri and Bharati separated by 3098 km. Maitri Research station was built in 1989, shortly before the first station Dakshin Gangotri was buried in ice and abandoned in 1990 - 1991. Maitri is situated on the rocky mountainous region called Schirmacher Oasis.
BHARATI, India’s Third and newest permanent research base is situated on a rocky promontory fringing the Prydz Bay between Stornes and Broknes peninsula in the Larsemann Hills area. It is located approximately midway between the eastern extremity of the Amery Ice Shelf and the southern boundary of the Vestfold Hills. It was constructed in 2010 and the expeditions duly started in 2011, making India the elite group of nine countries to have multiple base research stations in Antarctica.
The 33rd Indian Scientific Expedition was Kato’s first Antarctic adventure.