Inspire 22: Military and civilian team to explore body's response to Antarctic conditions
A tri-service medical research expedition to the South Pole, involving regular and reserve personnel over 900km, has been launched.
Military personnel and civilian participants will ski from the edge of the Antarctic land mass to the South Pole, hauling their own supplies behind them for up to 55 days, as part of Inspire 22.
They will gather scientific data including on the performance of wearable technology and the male versus female body response to extreme conditions.
Watch: Maj Natalie Taylor explains how Inspire 22 expedition will test human responses to the hostile Antarctic conditions.
The team launched its expedition in London on Tuesday, ahead of its departure in mid-November, when the participants will fly to Chile and then transit to the Antarctic.
Nine team members, led by Major Natalie Taylor, Regimental Medical Officer for The Black Watch, 3 SCOTS, will ski from the edge of the Antarctic land mass to the South Pole, covering around 900km in about 50 days.
Temperatures are expected to hit -40°Celsius, with 60mph winds, and the team will be eating in excess of 5,000 calories per day.
Operating under Strategic Command, it will be the largest medical research expedition to Antarctica to be undertaken.
Maj Taylor told Forces News: "We're going to be doing saliva samples, looking at the stresses to the body, and then before we go on the expedition and after the expedition, we're going into a special unit, which is called a metabolic chamber, which looks at how the body consumes energy before and after the expedition.
"Then we're going to be doing what's called a VO2 max test – to see how fast people can step up and down a little box for as long as possible, before and after the expedition, and that will tell us a little bit about our human body and the metabolism."
The team is also backed by Team Forces, which funds military sport and adventure, and is also working in partnership with Coventry University and Professor Chris Imray – a leading cold weather and altitude field researcher – to investigate the effects of the expedition on physiological markers of stress, energy utilisation, and performance in men and women.
The team will be monitored with 'wearable' technology to collect physiological measurements, with the aim of informing future health care and support for servicemen and women in remote hostile environments.
BFBS Trustees are sponsoring the Inspire 22 expedition through the BFBS Welfare Fund which supports amenities, activities and projects that promote the efficiency of the Armed Forces. BFBS is the parent company of Forces News.