The Seventeenth scientific expedition to Antarctica comprising 51 members including 36
scientists and 15 logistics personnel drawn from 18 national institutions was launched on 8th December,
1997 from Antarctic Study Centre, Goa. The expedition which was led by Mr. K.R. Sivan, an engineer
from the R&D Establishment of DRDO, had a distinct impetus on the scientific component through the
induction of several new experiments on bio-diversity, low frequency propagation, seismic and planetary
geodetic studies, all contributing to international campaigns mounted by SCAR. Three German scientists
from the University of Dresden participated in this expedition as a part of joint studies on planetary
geodesy. The expedition returned to India on 31st March, 1998 leaving behind a 25 member wintering
team. The following scientific and logistic tasks were performed by the Seventeenth Antarctic Team.
Profiling of ozone and dynamics of ozone hole by using a Laser Heterodyne System (LHS) designed to
yield the vertical profile of ozone and other minor trace gases in the atmosphere upto a height of 60m was
Geomagnetic studies to understand the dynamics of mobile current systems in the Antarctic
atmosphere were carried out. Three fluxgate magnetometers and riometers were operated to obtain
velocity of mobile auroral current systems that leave back geomagnetic pulsations.
Climatological and meteorological studies to generate meteorological models for understanding the
patterns of Antarctic circulation in the context of global and Indian weather systems undertaken.
LF radio wave propagation studies to map the electric fields using whistlers, which are a powerful
tool for exploring the ionospheric and magnetospheric interactions, were performed.
Geological Mapping and petro-geochemical sampling was carried out to cover an unmapped area of
1000 sq. km in the Kurze and Holtedahl ranges of Orvin II mountains.
Geological Evolution of Schirmacher Hills through the ongoing research on structural, petrologic,
geochemical and geochronological signatures in the rocks of the Schirmacher Oasis was studied. The
pressure and temperature regime under the different grades and stages of metamorphism were
Snow Drift and Albedo studies to understand the net energy exchange budget between the atmosphere
and the different snow-ice terrains in Antarctica were initiated. The reflectivity of the snow cover surface,
i.e. the albedo, was measured through a number of experiments under different physical conditions.
Teleseismic studies through the establishment of a permanent digital broad band seismograph to
monitor the crustal disturbances and seismic activities carried out. Uplinking with the international chain
of observatories in Antarctica undertaken.
Planetary Geodetic studies through the establishment of a permanent GPS observatory as a part of
SCAR mounted GPS Epoch campaign initiated. This will provide accurate positions on the global
reference frame which will help to monitor relative plate movements.
Studies on human physiology to understand the adaptive processes of human being was continued
and complemented by new experiments on sleep awake cycle, vitamin D metabolism and neuro-
behavioural responses to geomagnetism.
Human immune response mechanism influenced by geophysical and environmental parameters in
Antarctic conditions was studied through several experiments with the aim to co-relate with ongoing
studies on human physiology.
Biodiversity studies on snow bank fungi, moss, inhabiting fauna and lichens were taken up to
understand their bio-geographical distribution pattern and taxonomic characters. The species diversity and
density patterns of lichen distribution in the Schirmacher Oasis and Orwin mountains was also undertaken
to determine their heavy metal content as a biomonitoring parameter in different ecological niches.
Desiccation tolerance of cyanobacteria was analysed in order to understand the floristic changes on
the terrestrial habitats of certain sites and decipher the state of soluble proteins and its structure.
Engineering & Communication
Structural engineering studies were continued on condition monitoring of the structural components
of the station under low temperature conditions. novel aspect of these studies included an on-line status
monitoring facility from Antarctica through computer interfacing.
Communication transmission upgradation through HF & VHF propagation studies as a factor of
radio-meteorological parameters initiated.
For tapping the wind energy, a wind turbine prototype system for generating power with stand-alone
systems was designed.
Some of the major time bound logistic tasks undertaken during this expedition are as follows:
Construction of a full-fledged Medical Inspection room comprising OT examination room, X-ray and
dark room, sterilization room, etc., by renovating `A' Block of the station.
Relaying of the water supply pipe line using trace coil heating system.
Construction of an underground vault for permanent seismic station at Maitri.
Upkeep and restoration of the natural habitat of Maitri and its surroundings.