The first group of the 32nd Bulgarian Antarctic Expedition departed from Sofia Airport to Argentina’s Ushuaia on Wednesday. The scientists are expected to arrive in the afternoon of December 28. Together with a team of builders who are already there, they are planned to leave for the Bulgarian Antarctic base on Livingston Island onboard the Bulgarian naval research vessel Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii (RSV 421) from the port of Ushuaia.
“We should reach our base in two or three days in good sea conditions,” 32nd Bulgarian Antarctic Expedition Commander Kamen Nedkov told BTA. “A large-scale activity will begin after that – opening a base. We also have the big task of building the new laboratory block, which is currently in parts, loaded on the ship itself,” he noted.
Prof Christo Pimpirev, Chair of the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute, told BTA that he will travel at the end of January from Sofia. “This is the first group to leave and it will open our polar base for the new polar season,” he said. Pimpirev noted that this is the first time that the base has been opened so late. “We have always been at the Bulgarian base during the Christmas holidays,” he pointed out.
There are two main objectives. One is logistical – to build a new modern scientific laboratory, the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute Chair stated. He explained that the conditions there are some of the harshest on the planet. “One of the most important things was that during the last two expeditions we built the concrete foundation on which the building itself will rest,” Pimpirev added. He said it had to be very strong because of the strong winds. “Hopefully by the end of March, when the expedition ends, we will have a science laboratory ready. For the next expedition, the task will remain to complete the lab from the inside and refit it,” he pointed out.
The second task is the scientific programme. “We have a lot of new projects, there is work on old projects that started last year, but in all cases they are related to problems that affect all of humanity,” Pimpirev explained. He noted that the study of global climate change and glacier movements, biology and microbiology research will continue. Research in the earth sciences is also continuing, because it has been found that there are many valuable metals in the area of the Bulgarian base, he pointed out. Smith Island will also be explored, he said.