• The South African National Space Agency wants three volunteers to spend three months at South Africa’s Antarctic base, SANAE IV
  • Candidates have to be physically and mentally strong to cope with the extreme temperatures and weather, as well as the isolation.
  • There is no pay for the work – but the trip is worth at least R140,000.
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The South African National Space Agency (Sansa) is looking for three volunteers to spend three months in Antartica, and work there for free.

“Any individual interested in an experience of a life-time, with some scientific/engineering background may apply for this opportunity,” the agency says in its advert.

The trip will run from December until about February next year, and the closing date for applications is 25 September. 

“The volunteers [will] go to assist our engineering team with maintenance and upgrades to Sansa’s instrumentation network at the SANAE IV base,” says Jonathan Ward, engineering and data acquisition manager at Sansa. 

South Africa has had a physical presence in Antarctica since 1960 and the base, located in the Queen Maud Land region of Antarctica, is home to a number of science experiments. Its physical science programme is the only one that runs all year round. The others, which include Earth, life, and oceanographic sciences, run during the summer months when temperatures and weather allow

However, the volunteers will be part of Sansa’s space science unit, which “forms part of the worldwide network of magnetic observatories, monitors and models variations of the Earth’s magnetic field, and carries out physics research”

Successful applicants need to be physically and mentally strong, according to the advert. Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth, and while the team will be there in summer, the warmest temperature recorded in Antarctica to date is 15 degrees Celsius. But candidates also have to be mentally strong to cope with the extreme isolation. 

The three positions are unpaid, but Sansa will cover the volunteers' costs while they are part of the trip.

For your average tourist, a trip to Earth’s southern-most continent can be very pricey. According to travel website Antarctica Guide, a budget cruise will set you back about the equivalent of about R140,000, while a luxury option will cost around R380,000. Travel group Aurora Expeditions offers a complete Antarctic adventure for 23-days from around R340,000 per person sharing.

That comes with a free jacket.

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