The Antarctic continent is the purest ice and snow world on this planet. Among the ice and snow, it is another beauty different from human civilization. However, it is the worst environment on the planet and the only place where no humans live. Once winter comes, the temperature here drops sharply, and some areas reach to minus 90 degrees. More than 1,000 square kilometers of sea area around the mainland are frozen into ice. The violent wind often exceeds 14 levels and reaches a wind speed of 70 m/s. During this time from March to October, there is no ship or plane to come in, which means that when winter comes, anyone will be isolated and trapped here. The harsh natural environment, the shortage of materials, the simple living environment, how can human beings survive in such an environment? Through history, we know that most of the early Antarctic expeditions ended in distress. However, such a harsh environment is the workplace of our current protagonist Yao Shutao.
Yao Shutao is from the School of Space Science and Physics in Shandong University (Weihai) and is a second-year PhD student in geophysics. His research work is excellent in scientific research during his Phd study. He has published 13 papers in international top journals such as Nature-Communication, including 5 first author papers. He has received several important awards, including the national awards for postgraduate studies and the outstanding graduate students from Shandong Province. With excellent scientific research performance in 2018, Yao Shutao participated in the nationwide open recruitment for the winter representative into the 35th Antarctic expedition team. After heavy screening, he was successfully selected as a scientist in the Antarctic Zhongshan Station as a university student and the first winter representative from Shandong University in the Chinese Antarctic research history. It is reported that less than 20 people in the country can be “lucky” to be selected for the wintering position of Zhongshan Station in Antarctica. Their average age is 40 years old, and they are all elite engineers and scientists from different carriers. Yao Shutao, who is 29 years old, becomes the youngest university student. He has taken the icebreaker from Shanghai in November 2018 and is currently conducting a 500-day space physics science study in Antarctica.
It is a long journey for Chinese scientists to travel to the South Pole on the Snow Dragon icebreaker. "Snow Dragon" has several positions, that is, a transport ship and a scientific research ship, or the command of the Antarctic expedition. It takes 1-2 months to travel to the Antarctic Zhongshan Station. The narrow shipyard, the bad sea conditions is a severe test for the physical fitness and will of every examiner. Yao Shutao said that when passing through the unpredictable "Devil Westerly Belt" and "Antarctic Circumpolar Flow", some members of the Snow Dragon scientists had different seasickness reactions. Some of the scientists did not drink the water for three days and survived by infusion. But he didn't have it at all. This is due to his years of physical exercise. Yao Shutao often exercises. He said: "Physical quality is the foundation of scientific research. Scientists should have a strong body, otherwise they will not be able to cope with the highly concentrated space physics work."
Why is the study of Antarctic space physics being valued? The reason for this is that this is an important "window" for the Earth to connect to outer space. The sun is the planet that has the greatest impact on the Earth, constantly spraying charged particles into space and forming solar wind. The solar wind interacts with the Earth's magnetic field to form a magnetic layer. Under the protection of the magnetosphere and the atmosphere, the earth is like a giant ship welcoming the "wind" in the universe, so people are protected from the high-speed charged particles of the sun jet. The Antarctic is the entrance to the solar wind energy and particles entering the Earth's space. It is the source of energy for the causal space weather such as magnetic storms, ionospheric storms, and particle storms in the Earth's space. Space weather is directly related to the development of high-tech such as aerospace, navigation and positioning. “For example, the development of autonomous driving technology must consider the positioning error caused by space weather. Space physics observation in Antarctica is of great significance for establishing space weather models, improving radio long-distance communication, determining satellite orbits, and defense military.
However, due to geographical and other factors, China's research on the Antarctic continent is slower and far behind the international advanced level. China's road to physics research in Antarctica has a long way to go. Yao Shutao's major is space physics. With strong patriotism and feelings of serving the country, he applied to join the Chinese Antarctic expedition team in 2018 and entered the Antarctic Zhongshan Station wintering expedition. Here, he will complete the instrument operation and data processing work of the SuperDARN incoherent scatter radar, laser radar, digital altimeter, cosmic noise receiver, ionospheric scintillation and TEC monitoring system, inductive magnetometer, fluxgate magnetometer, CCD monochromatic aurora imaging Normal operation, maintenance and data processing of instruments, spectrometers, small-scale aurora imagers, Muon telescopes, absolute and relative geomagnetic observation laboratories, solid tide laboratories, pan-tilt surveillance cameras, GPS time-based equipment and NAS servers.
Antarctica is isolated from the world. Once there is a problem with the equipment, it is impossible to carry out on-site maintenance in time and it is impossible to replace the parts. It will be a fatal blow. The space exploration positions of the previous team were carried out by experienced engineers or senior scientists. During his PhD study, Yao Shutao was able to use multiple satellite data and space observation equipment. It is with this advantage that he succeeded in solving these problems and ensuring the normal operation of the equipment in the event of failure in Antarctica. Yao Shutao said: "In the wilderness of the Antarctic, except for the snow and the Gobi, there is only the sound of whistling. Sometimes, you need to calm down and immerse yourself in scientific research. Scientific research needs to be adhered to, and scientific positions need to be adhered to. Scientists need to have a strong and persistent heart to survive the slow whiteness and long night of the Antarctic, to meet the boundless darkness, and to greet the dawn of dawn." Yao Shutao's Antarctic scientific examination condenses the unremitting efforts of researchers in the cause and Adherence to dreams is also an excellent example for scientists to explore the challenges of nature. As a new era of college students and young scientists, Yao Shutao sings the most powerful voice of science and technology to the country!
The video was taken by my doctoral student Yao Shutao in Antarctica.