Concordia Station in Antarctica is one of the coldest – and most remote – places on Earth. With temperatures hovering at about -94°F (-70°C), snow covers every inch of the ground, and sometimes the sun can’t be seen for months.
But it’s also a scientific base that a group of European scientists call home. Two of those people are Cyprien Verseux and Carmen Possnig, researchers from France and Austria.
One day, they decided to “cook” outside in the freezing temperatures to see how the food would react.
Keep scrolling to see the mind-blowing photos of their culinary adventure, and to read Possnig’s first-hand account of life at Concordia.
Cyprien Verseux and Carmen Possnig are researchers stationed in Concordia, Antarctica — one of the most remote scientific bases in the world.
Verseux, station leader, is a glaciologist and biologist affiliated with the French Polar Institute, or IPEV/PNRA.
Possnig is a medical researcher with the European Space Agency studying how the human body reacts to extreme environments, like Antarctica.
They’re part of a team of 13 people that come from France, Italy, and Austria. About half of the group does research, while the rest keep the station running (doctors, cooks, etc.).
One day, Verseux and Possnig decided to take their food outside and let the sub-zero weather work its magic.
“I think it is hard to imagine for people what -70 to -80°C feels like, and we wanted to demonstrate what it’s like,” Carmen Possnig told INSIDER.
They chose spaghetti for their first dish, as it truly shows just how extreme conditions at Concordia Station are.
“That’s just something that would never happen in Austria or France,” Possnig said.
Possnig says that the station’s everyday diet is very similar to how they ate back home in Europe.
“We have an Italian cook, so we eat lots of pasta, pizza, and risotto, but also fish, frozen vegetables, and meat – basically it’s a mix of Italian and French cuisine,” she said.
“We have a few exotic things as well – kangaroo and crocodile from Australia, for example – but we only eat that on rare occasions.”
But what they miss most are fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We haven’t had any since the last plane left in early February,” Possnig said. “Some strawberries and a salad would be greatly appreciated!”
For food storage, the group freezes almost everything, burying much of it in the snow.
“Meat seems to cope better with the cold than fish, which often burns,” Possnig said.
Because of these extraordinary conditions, Possnig says sometimes she feels like an astronaut living on another planet.
She says the environment is “completely isolated with nothing around us for 600 km (373 miles), [has an] eerie landscape and no way of evacuation, and always the same 13 people, depending on each other for survival.”
For that reason, Concordia Station is an ideal place to study and prepare for future space missions.
“Doing research for ESA, and through this research enabling future human spaceflight missions, is simply perfect in this environment,” Possnig told us.
Recently, the group had three and a half months of night — and Possnig said she will never forget the experience.
“Walking outside in the total darkness and cold was an adventure every time,” she said. “The night sky was simply beautiful, we have never seen so many stars before, and we really did feel like explorers on a white Mars in these moments.”
“For me, just living here, in this extraordinary environment, is a reward.”
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