Specialist vans for Antarctic core mission

Researchers will drill 3000 metres deep in Antarctica to its ice core over several summers.
Researchers will drill 3000 metres deep in Antarctica to its ice core over several summers.

Specialist vans built to withstand temperatures as low as minus 85 degrees Celsius will be mobile homes for Antarctic expeditioners on a mission to study its million-year-old ice core.

Researchers are preparing to drill 3000 metres deep over several summers at a remote area about 1200km, or two weeks' travel, from Australia's Casey Station.

Tiny bubbles in the ice cores will reveal the earth's past climate and help scientists make better predictions about how ice sheets may evolve in the future.

Hobart-based company Taylor Bros has started constructing living and sleeping vans, which will eventually be towed in a tractor convoy to the drilling site.

"The traverse living space is crucial as this is where people will come in out of the cold," Australian Antarctic Division Traverse Project leader Anthony Hull said on Tuesday.

"It'll be their sanctuary where they'll warm up and they'll fuel with food."

Kitchen vans include a mess area, showers and waterless toilets while others are being equipped with beds to sleep up to 10 people.

"They're quite spacious for what they are. Pretty basic accommodation but comfortable," Taylor Bros director Phil Taylor said.

"The toilet is quite special because it burns all of the waste, there's no flushing."

It will take about six months to build the vans, which are being constructed with specialist panels.

They will then be transported to Antarctica next summer on new icebreaker RSV Nuyina, with drilling to begin after that.

Scientists are planning to spend four or five summers collecting the ice cores.

Temperatures are expected to range from minus 25C to minus 40C but Mr Taylor said the vans will be build to withstand minus 85C.

Testing on high-tech drill parts is under way at the AAD headquarters south of Hobart.

Australian Associated Press