World's most extreme science labs © Getty Images

World’s most extreme science labs

Laboratories without limits: Aimee Steen checks out the most challenging places that experiments take place.

1

Highest

  • A research centre might be the last thing you expect to see when climbing the Nepalese Himalayas, but that’s precisely where the Pyramid Laboratory can be found.
  • Perched 5050m above sea level, it is the flagship for high altitude research and has hosted over 550 research missions since opening in 1990.
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Ev-K2-CNR, also know as the Italian Pyramid, is a scientific and technological research center near the base of Mount Everest in Nepal © Getty Images
Ev-K2-CNR, also know as the Italian Pyramid, is a scientific and technological research center near the base of Mount Everest in Nepal © Getty Images
  • Owned by the Ev-K2-CNR Committee, which promotes research in mountain areas, the centre aims to use its knowledge to ensure a better quality of life for native populations around the world and safeguard fragile, high altitude ecosystems.
2

Windiest

  • Creating speed at Mach 30 – that’s about 30 times the speed of sound – the LENS-X wind tunnel at the Calspan University of Buffalo Research Centre, New York, packs a punch when it comes to airflow.
  • At 2.5m wide and over 30m long, it only ‘blows’ for two milliseconds at its most powerful, generating 18 metres of airflow. The facility, which can test missiles and scaled-down aircraft, has even been used to run tests for NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
3

Most pressurised

  • The Aquarius in Key Largo, Florida is a dedicated underwater research laboratory able to house six researchers for up to two weeks.
Dr. Ellen Prager, Chief Scientist, for NOAA's manned habitat, Aquarius, hovers near the manmade structure. The underwater habitat allows teams of divers and scientists to live underwater and to conduct a variety of experiments and research projects related to the coral reef environment. The manned habitat also functions as an artificial reef, allowing the attachment and growth of coral colonies and providing hiding places for various types of marine life, such as sponges, fish, and corals © Getty Images
NOAA’s manned habitat, Aquarius © Getty Images
  • Though based at a depth of 20 metres, the working platform at 14m is subject to around 2.5 times the pressure at the surface. And you can forget the measly couple of hours diving time you’d usually get if starting from the sea surface – Aquarius residents can dive for up to nine hours at 30m.

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