The logistic means

The use of a land-based snow caravan is a unique research platform that combines the key elements of oceanographic research vessels and large polar stations, without the significant expense of the former or the lack of mobility of the latter. A caravan provides access to large areas and study regions. The multidisciplinary and mobile nature of scientific traverses makes it possible to understand the ice cap in space and time at a relatively modest cost.

France and Italy through the French Polar Institute and the PNRA have developed logistical capacities to carry out scientific traverse on the Antarctic continent. These capacities and know-how are based on more than 20 years of experience in the management of logistical and scientific traverses.

Branchements électriques à l'épreuve du froid ©Bruno Jourdain

The stations

Research stations are by definition fixed. Although space exploration is limited to short distances around the station, it provides monitoring, equipment and energy for long-term observation.


  • Unlimited of time
  • Quantity of energy available
  • Technical and medical staff
  • Overwintering
  • Network and communication
  • Confortable and convenient


  • few in number
  • Local pollution
  • Confined

The traverse

The traverses are a convoy of land vehicles moving in complete autonomy. They consist of a heated living space, an energy caravan, tractors pulling containers on skis, an gas tank and scientific laboratories. They allow you to travel long distances but for a short period of time, limited to the summer season (60 days of maximum autonomy). A small team of ten people can thus evolve over long distances on the unexplored Antarctic plateau (about 2,000 km from a main station).


  • Mobile
  • Explore virgin land
  • low pollution impact


  • Limited Personnel
  • Limited amount of time
  • Low nergy capacity
raid © P. Godon

Composition of the EAIIST convoy

  • A life caravan (10 berths, kitchen, office, washing machine, showers, toilets)
  • An energy caravan (generator, mechanical workshop, liquid water production!)
  • A container divided in two (2 additional berths and a food compartment)
  • Two laboratory caravans (hot laboratory with chemistry bench, storage, ultra pure water production and cold laboratory with saws, ice core processing tables and a core drilling machine)
  • A storage container for samples and scientific equipment
  • A container for aircraft fuel, engine oil, tools, spare parts.
  • Four fuel tanks
  • Four Challenger 65C tractors
  • A groomer

Life space

Despite the crowding, everything is organized to optimize the space and give the feeling of a home. As living spaces are greatly reduced, as much as in a space station, a certain comfort allows to support group life. Delicious meals are often the only opportunity to rediscover a peaceful and invigorating social life.

The vehicles

Caravans and containers are the equivalent of 9 loads for tractors. The four tractors have a traction capacity of 14 loads, the remaining five loads are dedicated to transporting the fuel tanks, or 60 m2 of diesel fuel.

  • Diesel fuel consumption on virgin runway: 7L/km per vehicle
  • Diesel fuel consumption on groomed track: 5L/km per vehicle
  • No. of motor vehicles: 5 (1 groomer - 4 tractors)
  • Distance Concordia / extreme point: 670 km
  • Distance from coast to Concordia: 1150 km
  • Total round trip distance: 3640 km
  • Total fuel: 113 m3