India has two stations on the polar continent of Antarctica — Maitri and Bharati — which are being operated under the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Union Ministry of Earth Sciences. Cautious steps have been taken to avoid contraction and spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on board the expedition vessel and the virus reaching Antarctica.
Highlighting the pivotal role of NCPOR in this vital mission, M Ravichandran, director, NCPOR said, “Polar regions are crucially important in answering key questions about global climate change, its contribution towards global sea-level rise, the background aerosol properties, variability in the sea ice cover and phenomena like Antarctic haze and ozone concentrations. Attempts to address some of these issues are helping in mitigating several important problems concerning human life and well-being.”
The focus of the 40th Scientific Expedition to the white continent will be to support the ongoing scientific projects on geology, climate change, electric and magnetic flux measurements, ocean observations, environmental monitoring. It also aims at resupplying of fuel, food, and to accomplish the return of the winter crew.