Indian scientists hoist tricolour at South Pole

"We feel at the top of the world at the bottom here," Rasik Ravindra, Director of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), told a tele-conference from the South Pole this evening.

The eight-member team of scientists and technicians raised the tri-colour at the South Pole at 0130 IST today, the first Indian scientific team to do so."It is very cold here. The current temperature in minus 70 degrees Celsius if you consider the chill factor," Ravindra said.

The team braved the icy winds and treacherous terrain to reach the South Pole -- 90 degrees south latitude -- to commemorate the centenary of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen's feat.

The team had set-off on the sojourn from 'Maitri', the Indian research station in eastern Antarctica on November 13."It took us nine days and five halts to traverse 2360 kms to the geographic South Pole," Ravindra said.

The team will be camping at the South Pole till Wednesday, when they begin their journey back to Maitri."This is the first Indian scientific expedition to the South Pole," Earth Sciences Secretary Shailesh Nayak said here.

The team conducted experiments, gathered atmospheric data and collected ice cores from the frozen continent in their bid to understand the changes in the environment over past 1,000 years.

Besides Ravindra, Ajay Dhar, Javed Beg, Thamban Meloth, Asit Swain, Pradip Malhotra, Krishnamurthy and Surat Singh are part of the team.Amundsen had reached the South Pole on December 14, 1911 in dog-drawn sledges. Indian scientists used special sport utility vehicles (SUV) for their journey.

Experiments involving geomorphology -- the study of landforms and geophysics -- which includes movements of tectonic plates were conducted in the course of their journey.
These studies are expected to add to the knowledge of how the ancient landmass, once fused with other continents in a super-continent before being separated 200 million years ago, has evolved, he said.

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