Equipment due to be taken to deep freeze Antarctica during the coldest part of the year has been going through its paces at a proving ground near Milton Keynes.
Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes visited the test and development facilities at Millbrook Proving Ground at the end of September to run final climatic checks on trek equipment.
Leading British explorer Sir Ranulph, aged 68, will be leading a team attempting to be the first to cross Antarctica during the southern winter.
The year-long expedition is due to start in March 2013 and could see them battling temperatures as low as minus 90ºC.
Every bit of equipment needs to be tested to the extremes if they are to make it across the coldest place on earth.
Millbrook’s environmental chamber was used to test and evaluate heated gloves, insoles, helmet visors, facemasks and even lighting rigs.
Millbrook MD Miguel Fragoso said: “Millbrook is able to replicate virtually any real-world climate.
“With an extreme range of hot and cold capabilities our testing facilities are ideal for this type of pre-expedition evaluation.”
Millbrook is better known for the testing and development of vehicles but occasionally accommodates more unusual requests.
Mr Fragoso added: “We were pleased to be involved in this exciting project and to play a small part in ensuring that Sir Ranulph’s inspirational expedition is as safe as possible.”
Sir Ranulph added: “It is the unpredictable nature of a venture like this that makes me both apprehensive and excited. Our biggest challenge will be the conditions below minus 50ºC and the effect it will have on our equipment.
“The final stage of testing, carried out in Millbrook’s cold chamber, has enabled us to evaluate what will happen to our equipment when exposed to extremes in temperature. This gives us the best possible indication of whether equipment is likely to become brittle or break.