Wishing to conduct research programs on the Antarctic Plateau, the French and Italian Polar Institutes agreed in 1993 to cooperate in developing a permanent research support facility at Dome C, high on the ice cap. The facility was named “Concordia”.
Dome C is located at 75°06’ South and 123°23’ East, at 3.220m altitude on sub-horizontal ice ground with no crevasses. There is no local fauna or flora. The closest station is Vostok (Russia) 560 km to the south east. The closest coastal stations with good shipping access are Dumont d’Urville and Casey (Australia) which are 1,100 km to the North. Mario Zuchelli station (Italy) is situated 1,200 km to the East, on the East side of the Trans-Antarctic mountain range. Meteorological conditions are characterized by low wind speeds, low precipitation and very low temperatures.
Dome C was originally selected for glaciological research as the substantial layer of ice (about 3,200m thick) at the site offered the possibility of reconstructing the climate and pollution levels over the last million years via ice core sampling. But Dome C has other characteristics – it is located inside the ozone hole which can be detected in the Austral spring; it is a favorable site for astronomic observations due to its geographic location and its extremely dry, cold and rarefied atmosphere. At 3220m above sea level, and far from any marine related atmospheric disturbance, Dome Cis an ideal place for studying seismology and magnetism. Dome C is as a very isolated site with severe climatic conditions and therefore an excellent site for evaluating procedures for future work on other planets and for studying small groups of people in conditions close to those encountered in space vehicles or orbital stations.