Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,000,000 square kilometres (5,400,000 square miles), it is the fifth-largest continent. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1.9 km in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The Indian Antarctic Programme is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional programme under the control of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
Under the programme, atmospheric, biological, earth, chemical, and medical sciences are studied by India, which has carried out 35 scientific expeditions to the Antarctic till now.
The different research stations are:
• Dakshin Gangotri:
Dakshin Gangotri was the first Indian scientific research base station established in Antarctica, as a part of the Indian Antarctic Program. Located at a distance of 2,500 kilometres from the South Pole, it was established during the third Indian expedition to Antarctica in 1983/84. This was the first time an Indian team spent a winter in Antarctica to carry out scientific work.
Maitri is India’s second permanent research station in Antarctica. It was built and finished in 1989. Maitri is situated on the rocky mountainous region called Schirmacher Oasis. India also built a freshwater lake around Maitri known as Lake Priyadarshini.
Bharti, India’s latest research station operation since 2012. It has been constructed to help researchers work in safety despite the harsh weather. It is India’s first committed research facility and is located about 3000 km east of Maitri. Bharti made India an elite member of the club of nine nations that have multiple stations in the region.
Other research facilities
• Sagar Nidhi
In 2008, India commissioned the Sagar Nidhi, the pride of the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), for research. An ice class vessel, it can cut through thin ice of 40 cm depth and is the first Indian vessel to navigate Antarctic waters.