Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and most remote place on Earth. For once, it will be closer than ever: Challenge yourself to survive the extreme conditions faced by scientists researching this fragile continent at the Natural History Museum in London.
Enlist as an ice cadet and under the guidance of the Ice Station Commander brave a variety of exciting Antarctic challenges, from coping in sub-zero temperatures to riding a snowmobile. Explore the skills it takes to work in and preserve this frozen wilderness as you journey through the Ice Station Antarctica experience.
Alex Gaffikin, Ice Station Antarctica exhibition developer at the Natural History Museum, spent two and a half years working at British Antarctic Survey's Halley research station. Alex comments: 'At Ice Station Antarctica we'll really see if you've got what it takes to brave Antarctica. Every year hundreds of scientists and staff travel to Antarctica, braving harsh conditions and freezing temperatures in order to carry out crucial scientific research. It's a tough job, I should know, having worked there myself.'
Try on some real Antarctic clothing! ©Natural History Museum
Zone 1 – Could you survive the cold? Antarctica is one of the coldest places on Earth to endure. You'll be plunged into a freezer room set to -10 degrees Celsius. Try on some real Antarctic clothing and see what you need to keep yourself alive.
Zone 2 – Could you live with wild animals? In the next zone you'll experience the noise and smell of working in animal colonies in Antarctica. Your challenge will be to sniff some penguin vomit and examine the contents to find bits of fish, squid and krill. You'll also see one of the largest flying birds – the albatross.
Could you dive under sea ice? ©Natural History Museum
Zone 3 – Could you dive under sea ice? It's the depth of winter and the sea has frozen over. In this zone, you'll play a game about the challenges of diving in Antarctic waters. But like the divers who do it for real, you'll see some gigantic and unusual creatures.
Zone 4 – Could you live in Antarctica? It's not all fun and games. In Antarctica there are no fire brigades or rescue services and in an emergency we'll be looking to you. On our base station we'll be running some emergency scenarios. Will you keep your cool?
Could you drive a snowmobile?©Natural History Museum
Zone 5 – Could you drive a snowmobile? In this zone you play our snowmobile game to collect meteorites. Hold on tight as you race along on your snowmobile. But there are pitfalls in Antarctica – wind scoops and crevasses waiting to swallow you up. We have a real snowmobile for you to try out and some rock specimens from Antarctica.
Zone 6 – Could you camp in Antarctica? Enter our field camp and see what it's like to camp at sub-zero temperatures. How do you got keep alive during a storm, and how on Earth will you go to the toilet in a blizzard? Dotted around are boxes containing food, camping equipment and scientific instruments.
Zone 7 – Could you spend two months in the dark? This is the ultimate challenge. In Antarctica you might have to spend up to six months in darkness. So at Ice Station Antarctica we're giving you a taste of claustrophobia with a hint of paranoia thrown in – if sensory deprivation isn't your thing, move on.
Zone 8 – Did you survive the challenge? Finally we assess your results and determine which job you'd be able to do in Antarctica. Perhaps you'll be a good geologist, able to navigate through crevasse fields to collect precious rock samples, perhaps you can survive harsh conditions as a diver beneath the sea ice, or maybe it's all been too much and you'd prefer to stay at home….
By swiping a barcode on your ticket throughout the experience, the Ice Station Antarctica digital trail will reveal just how well you're adapting to the harsh life down south, and what role you are suited for. The digital trail also extends your Ice Station Antarctica experience beyond visiting the Museum, and allows you to go online to continue the challenge at www.nhm.ac.uk/ice-station-antarctica
Designed for families, especially children aged seven and over, this unmissable new hands-on exhibition gives you the chance to become an Antarctic expert. Developed in partnership with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Ice Station Antarctica is one of the highlights of the UK's involvement in International Polar Year (2007/8).
Opening hours: 25 May 2007 – 20 April 2008, 10.00–17.50
Admission: £7, £4.50 concessions, £19 family (up to five, minimum one adult, maximum two). free for Members, Patrons and children aged three and under.
www.nhm.ac.uk/ice-station-antarctica (a transaction fee applies on all advance tickets)
Visitor enquiries: +44 - (0)20 7942 5000
After London, the exhibition will be travelling to Spain and then to South Korea.