Participants in Russian Antarctic expedition to return to Petersburg

The scientific-expedition ship Akademik Fedorov with the participants in the Russian Antarctic expedition is to return to St. Petersburg on Tuesday, the Russian Federal Service of Hydrometeorology and Monitoring of the Environment reports.

So, the work according to the program of the 49th seasonal expedition, which was begun in autumn 2003, is coming to an end. The craft visited the Mirny, Progress and Novolazarevskaya Antarctic stations and the Druzhnaya-4 and Molodyozhnaya field bases, which made it possible to organize summer seasonal work and scientific research programs in different regions of the Antarctic continent.

Necessary cargos, scientific instruments and equipment, and personnel of the 49th wintering and seasonal expedition were delivered to the stations.

A great volume of observations, research and nature-conservation work was done at all the Antarctic stations last season. An ice aerodrome for receiving heavy wheeled-undercarriage transport aircraft very effectively operated at the Novolazarevskaya station. The Il-76TD aircraft made eight flights by the route Capetown - Novolazarevskaya-Capetown. Construction of a new wintering complex started at the Progress station. A large complex of geological exploration in the Prince Charles Mountains and research in the area of the Lambert and Amery shelf glaciers was organized from the Druzhnaya-4 field base.

The Vostok station was re-activated after a 10-month interval in its work. A new shift of Polar explorers and a group of specialists exploring the glacier shield and subglacier Lake Vostok were delivered to the station in January 2004.

Furthermore, an Orthodox church, named after Svyataya Troitsa (Holy Trinity), was built in Antarctica for the first ever time. The ceremony of its consecration took place on February 15, 2004.

As the press service of the Arctic and Antarctic Scientific Research Institute told RIA Novosti, 69 crewmen and 129 expedition participants are coming back to St. Petersburg harbour on board the Akademik Fedorov.

The ship began its 184-day voyage on November 10, 2003. During this time the ship covered 33,600 sea miles, including more than 3,000 sea miles in the Antarctic ice.

A large complex of oceanographic, meteorological and ice observations was carried out from the ship. Worthy of special mention among them is the series of oceanographic cross-sections of the Commonwealth Sea, the press service staffers noted.

Personnel of five Russian Antarctic stations - Mirny, Vostok, Novolazarevskaya, Progress and Bellinshausen - continues to work on the sixth continent.

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