Conference : Does time pass differently on the Antarctic Concordia?
Cyprien Verseux is an astrobiologist working on the search for life beyond Earth and an expert in biological life support systems for Mars exploration. Part of his research aims at making human outposts on Mars as independent as possible of Earth, by using living organisms to process Mars’s resources into products needed for human consumption. In other words, he is figuring out how to live on Mars off the land using biology and what is already there. He currently is a PhD student co-directed by Daniela Billi, at the University of Rome II and Lynn Rothschild, at NASA Ames Research Center. Prior to focusing on astrobiology he obtained Master’s degrees in Systems and Synthetic Biology from the Institute of Systems and Synthetic Biology and in Biotechnology Engineering from Sup’Biotech Paris. On Earth and outside the lab he enjoys skydiving, road trips with a tent and a few friends, swimming in lakes and seas, mountaineering, writing, reading a wide range of books and living stimulating new experiences.
In the heart of Antarctica, amid a white desert stretching as far as one can see, rise two towers connected by a suspended corridor: Concordia. Between November and February, planes and ground vehicles can reach it, and up to 80 people can live there. In February, all leave but a crew of a dozen: the winteroverers. For 9 months, the station becomes unreachable and temperatures, which can drop below – 80°C, prevent any evacuation. The continuous day turns into a continuous night, including 3 months when the sun does not even reach the horizon. Few events separate a month from the next, and no bird tweet signals the morning. In such conditions, how does our perception of time change?