The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) a part of India’s Ministry of Defense, established the Extreme Altitude Research Center at Chang La, a mountain pass at an elevation of 17, 590 ft. The center which is 47 miles off Leh town towards Pangong Lake, is poised to be the world’s highest terrestrial R&D center in the cold desert of Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, where temperatures drop to – 40 degrees Fahrenheit during winter months. Other arduous environmental conditions include reduced atmospheric pressure and humidity as well as high wind velocity and high ultraviolet radiation.
The facility will be used for Research & Development work in food, agriculture, and bio-medical sciences for the welfare of soldiers deployed in these areas. Life sciences activities too are proposed to be undertaken including human physiological work, long term conservation of plant genetic resources, designing, testing, validation and demonstration of mobile and portable greenhouses. The center will work toward the conservation and propagation of endangered extreme altitude medicinal plants and other flora.
Defense R&D Deputy General (Life Sciences) Bhuvnesh Kumar said that new center, besides undertaking life sciences activities, may provide a unique opportunity to other labs and establishments of DRDO for testing and evaluation of electronics and communication devices, testing of materials for high altitude applications, batteries, fuel cells, UAV’s micro engines among others, reports Hindustan Times.