At the moment, Vostok is the only Antarctic station located deep in the ice continent. Vostok was founded on December 16, 1957 by Vasily Semyonovich Sidorov, a famous Soviet polar explorer, a member of several Antarctic expeditions. From the station to the South Pole 1253 kilometers, and to the sea coast 1260 kilometers. The ice layer under the station is 3, 700 meters thick.
On December 16, 1956, the flag of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was solemnly raised over Vostok station. Polar explorers live in harsh conditions, the average annual temperature is minus 55 degrees, even in summer the air rarely "warms up" to minus 30 degrees. During the entire observation period, the highest temperature was recorded at minus 13 degrees, and the lowest - minus 89. The temperature record was recorded on July 21, 1983.
Due to the high altitude, the air at Vostok station is very rarefied, polar explorers experience a lack of oxygen in their blood, therefore, at first they suffer from altitude sickness, like mountain climbers. The adaptation period usually takes several weeks. Therefore, the selection of personnel for the Vostok station is very strict. Polar explorers need good health.
An example of true heroism was demonstrated by Soviet polar explorers in 1982: on April 13, a fire broke out at the Vostok, as a result of which all diesel generators were destroyed by fire. For eight months, the station's staff, which consisted of 20 people, had to keep warm with the help of stoves, which were fueled with diesel fuel, while waiting for a sledge-caterpillar train from the Mirny station. You can get to the "Vostok" only in summer, and summer in Antarctica lasts from December to March.
Mechanic Aleksey Karpenko died during a fire at the polar station. Later, the body of the deceased polar explorer was taken to the Mirny station and buried in the Antarctic cemetery, where dozens of victims of the harsh Antarctica rest.
For nine months a year, polar explorers of the Vostok station have to rely only on their own strength. And in the summer you can get here by air or by sledge-caterpillar hike. Moreover, the sledge-caterpillar transport overcomes the path in two weeks, passing during this time 1, 400 kilometers from the station "Progress" to "Vostok". The Mirny station is closer, but at present, due to the accumulation of ice, this route has become impossible.
In December 1988, the Metelitsa women's scientific and sports detachment made a ski crossing between the Mirny and Vostok stations. The most disappointing forecasts were made about the successful outcome of this bold experiment. But, the brave girls did not deviate from their plan and overcame an incredibly difficult route in 57 days. During the transition, the average temperature was just below -30 degrees below zero.
Under the ice shell, on which the Vostok station is located, there is a huge lake. It, like the station itself, is also called "Vostok". It is assumed that the subglacial lake covers a huge area of 250 by 50 kilometers, and its depth can reach 1, 200 meters. There is a drilling complex at the station, the first well, 40 meters deep, was drilled back in 1959.
They managed to reach the lake only many years later, in January 2012. It was found thermophilic bacteria that live at temperatures plus 40-60 degrees Celsius. It turns out that the water in Lake Vostok is very warm. Polar explorers even drink this water, claiming that it is much tastier than the one that is obtained from melted ice.
Member of the Antarctic expedition 1966/1967. was the famous Soviet scientist, journalist and traveler Yuri Senkevich. At the Vostok station, he studied human behavior in extreme conditions. On the basis of the collected material, Senkevich defended his Ph.D. thesis.
The Vostok station was also described in some of the works of the Soviet writer Vladimir Sanin. He visited Antarctica in the early seventies as part of the Soviet Antarctic Expedition. This resulted in the books A Newbie in Antarctica, Seventy-two Degrees Below Zero, Trapped. These books were used to make films "Seventy-two degrees below zero" and "Antarctic Tale".
On "Vostok" two holidays are necessarily celebrated - the station's birthday and the New Year. Moreover, the New Year begins here in the Antarctic summer, when the sun shines almost around the clock. Soviet, and now Russian, polar explorers celebrate the coming of the new year by Moscow time.
It is said that in the early 1950s it was planned to locate a Soviet station at the South Pole. The meeting on the development of Antarctica was held in France, the delegate from the Soviet Union was late due to problems with paperwork. Therefore, the space for the station at the South Pole was given to the Americans.