Expedition Climbs Fuji Dome, One of the Coldest Places


An expedition ending in January 2019 has successfully used a wind-blown vehicle to climb one of the planet’s coldest places. This is none other than the Fuji Dome in East Antarctica. The expedition took 52 days and was the first of its kind. The team, known as Spain’s Asociación Polar Trineo de Viento, included four members.

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A One-of-a-kind Vehicle

The 12,500 feet climb to Fuji Dome needed a unique vehicle that could withstand the harsh conditions and carry everything the team needed for this remarkable voyage. The team’s chosen vehicle is known as the Windsled and was invented by Ramón Larramendi. Some of the cargo on board this modular sled included tents, solar panels, and scientific experiments all amounting to about two tons. The sled was pulled by a massive kite measuring 1,600 square-feet.

A Significant Milestone

The journey was by no means easy. The team endured temperatures as cold as negative 43.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the pressure from soft snow and winds on the voyage, the kite also experienced a rip, but thankfully they made it there and back safely. It is very significant that their vehicle was wind-powered and pollution-free.

The success of the journey is something to celebrate. Larramendi considers it a major achievement in terms of the scientific, geographical, and technology aspects of the voyage. The team also performed 11 scientific experiments on their trek in conjunction with a number of research organizations. In one of these, they sampled snow and ice using equipment from the University of Maine. This was part of a climate change study. In another experiment, they tested sensors that measure temperature, wind, and other weather conditions. This kind of sensor is set to be used on NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover. Other organizations that sponsored scientific experiments onboard the Windsled include the Spanish Astrobiology Center and the European Space Agency (ESA).

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