The European Space Agency (ESA) released this image this month of a twilight mist above the Concordia Research Station, a French-Italian facility built two miles (3,233 meters) above sea level at a location called Dome C on the Antarctic Plateau. ESA has called this location the remotest base on Earth and explained:
The nearest human beings are stationed some 600 km [about 400 miles] away at the Russian Vostok base, making Concordia more remote than the International Space Station [about 250 miles, or 400 km, above Earth].
It’s also very cold there, of course. ESA said:
A place of extremes, temperatures can drop to -80 degrees C [-112 F] in the winter, with a yearly average temperature of -50 degrees C [90 degrees F].
The Concordia Research Station undergoes about four months of continuous night each year. Sunlight returns in August; that’s probably when the photo above was taken. Now, ESA said, the station is getting ready for the influx of summer visitors. Linens are being washed, mattresses cleaned and changed, and fresh food supplies are arriving. Concordia hosts up to 80 researchers in the busy summer months – from around now through about February – who come to set up sensors and run experiments.
Bottom line: As we in the Northern Hemisphere experience longer nights and shorter days, Antarctica is nearing its season of 24-hour sunlight. This photo shows a period of twilight at the Concordia Research Station in East Antarctica.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.