Australia's Antarctic expeditioners are preparing for a scaled-back summer research season like no other due to COVID-19.
The frozen continent is virus-free, something the Australian Antarctic Division is determined to maintain.
Thirty-three expeditioners, the first wave to head south, are undergoing two weeks of hotel quarantine in Hobart before flying to Casey research station on November 7.
"Our key goal this season is to keep Antarctica free of COVID-19 and keep all of our expeditioners safe," incoming station leader Kyle Williams said.
Summer activities have been scaled back to focus on changing over teams and re-supplying stations.
Only half of Australia's usual 500-strong contingent will be travelling south.
No major construction activities on Australian stations will be undertaken and science projects will be limited to automated data collection and wildlife monitoring.
"This particular season is truly unlike any other season in the history of the Antarctic program," Mr Williams said.
Care packages and exercise equipment have been provided to quarantining expeditioners, who will initially practice "enhanced social distancing" when they arrive at Casey station.
"In a lot of ways it's not that much different to what life is like in Antarctica," Mr Williams said of two weeks in isolation.
"You're living and working in the most isolated place on the planet. For most of the expeditioner cohort, it's something they've had a similar experience with before.
"For the others, its actually good preparation for when they hit the ground at Casey."
Expeditioners will be tested three times before heading south and will wear masks and gloves after leaving the hotel and on their way to the airport.
The safety protocols have been given the green light by state and national medical authorities and are in line with guidelines for Antarctic nations.
Temporary supply ship MPV Everest will make three trips south this summer, with completion of the new $529 million icebreaker RSV Nuyina delayed due to the pandemic.
Australian Associated Press