MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed off on a plan outlining the activities of the Russian Antarctic Expedition in 2013-2017, the government’s press service reported on Tuesday.
According to the plan, Russia will carry out annual Arctic expeditions aimed at geological and geophysical research, the study of global climate change, the further drilling at Lake Vostok, buried two miles beneath the icy landmass, the mapping of the continent, and the extension of land support of Russia’s activities in space.
“Overall, the plan focuses on the expansion of Russia’s presence in Antarctica and the implementation of key projects outlined in the Russian Antarctic Strategy until 2020 and beyond,” the press service said in a statement.
The plan determines, in particular, the number of Russian personnel stationed at permanent stations and seasonal field bases, the fleet of support ship and aircraft, and the amount of fuel necessary to sustain the expanding operations on the continent.
Russia maintains five permanent polar stations in Antarctica and plans to allocate another 60 billion rubles ($2 bln) to implementing a wide range of new projects in line with the Arctic Strategy until 2020.
Last year, Russian scientists reached the surface of Lake Vostok, the largest of nearly 400 sub-glacial lakes on the continent, after drilling through the Antarctic ice sheet to the depth of 3,768 meters.
They are planning to reach water layers at the bottom of the lake in 2013-2014 in the hope to discover evidence of how life evolved before the ice age.