POWER stands for 'Physiological Adaptations in Women During a North Pole Expedition', the study being undertaken by top human physiologist Audrey Bergouignan from the Universite de Strasbourg in France. We, the expedition team, are her study subjects.
Audrey has travelled to Longyearbyen in order to carry out baseline tests on the team members and to fit them with all the monitors that they will wear during the expedition and which will collect the vital data for the study.
Today the team members in Longyearbyen gathered in the hospital to have blood taken, to have their fat scanned and their resting metabolic rate measured. For some, giving blood was the hardest part (the record is no blood in five attempts!) while for others it was laying still - no talking, no phone - for a full 25 minutes for the metabolic test.
Afterwards we were fitted with just some of the monitors we will be wearing - a small battery-like monitor taped to our chest, another in a wrist band - but most alarming was the 'tag' placed on our upper arms which inserts a fine needle into the skin layer and records our blood sugar on a microchip. It will stay put for 14 days!
Up nest will be a monitor that we wear around our waists, a heart rate monitor and a watch that is not a watch but a clever gizmo recording our circadian rhythms....oh, and learning how to spit into a test tube.
If you would like to known more about why we are putting ourselves through this, take a look at our science pages where Audrey explains how little data exists about the physiological response of women in extreme environments and why that matters for future interplanetary exploration.