Construction of new South Pole begins

October 16, 2000

Environmental Upgrades to be Completed, Satellite Link Built

Several major construction projects will begin or be completed during the 2000-2001 Antarctic research season which are significant milestones toward opening a modern and environmentally sound scientific station at the South Pole in 2005. Replacing the aging Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is a priority for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which operates the U.S. Antarctic Program.

Despite the harsh conditions at the bottom of the world and the fact that the supply line to the station is one of the world's longest, the South Pole modernization project is currently on schedule and within its $152.9 million budget, noted Karl Erb, director of NSF's office of polar programs.

During the austral summer, construction workers will erect the first portion of the new elevated station and complete safety and environmental upgrades to the station infrastructure. Also this season, a new satellite earth station will be installed at the Pole that will vastly improve the telecommunications links for the community there. Finally, an array of telescopes that will provide new insights into how the universe formed is scheduled to become fully operational this season.

Project materials are produced by suppliers across the U.S., moved by ship from Port Hueneme, Calif. to New Zealand and finally flown by the New York Air National Guard from McMurdo Station in Antarctica to the construction site at the Pole. Many materials are test-fitted in the United States to ensure ease of construction on site. The satellite earth station, for example, was assembled in Texas in September, before shipping to Antarctica.

Erection of the first steel structures that will eventually become one of two wings of the new, elevated station at the Pole will begin in November. The sleek, modernistic station will replace the geodesic dome that, since the 1970's, has been the predominant feature of the station.

Jerry Marty, who manages construction, operations and maintenance at the South Pole for the U.S. Antarctic Program, noted that while tons of construction cargo still must be shipped to Antarctica to complete the construction, the steel framework that will go up this summer will change the landscape at the Pole -- both literally and figuratively. "The most dramatic change of all will occur this year," he said. "No longer will the Dome be the focal point at the South Pole."

A new power plant is scheduled for completion in January that will provide up to one megawatt of electricity at the station for the first time in history. This will complete a multi-year environmental and safety upgrade of existing facilities which also includes construction of a new fuel storage facility and a garage and shop.

Also this season, large aluminum "ground shields" will be added to the Degree Angular Scale Interferometer (DASI), an array of 13 microwave antennas has been measuring cosmic background radiation temperature variations in a fairly large area of the sky above South Pole for the past several months. The shields will enhance the telescope's sensitivity. DASI 's measurements will help scientists understand the early cosmos, and the "dark matter" that is believed to constitute most of the universe.

Finally, a nine-meter satellite dish connecting the Pole with the commercial MARISAT- F2 and NSF's GOE-3 satellites will be installed this season. The system will enable scientists to transfer, rapidly and efficiently, the large quantities of scientific data gathered each day in the year-round work at the South Pole. The new capability will supplement coverage provided by NASA and U.S. Air Force satellites.
-end-


National Science Foundation

Related South Pole Articles from Brightsurf:

Ohio University professor, alum publish paper on record warming of the South Pole
The South Pole has been warming at more than three times the global average over the past 30 years, according to research led by Ohio University professor Ryan Fogt and OHIO alumnus Kyle Clem.

North pole will be ice-free in summer
Summer Arctic sea-ice is predicted to disappear before 2050, resulting in devastating consequences for the Arctic ecosystem.

North pole soon to be ice free in summer
The Arctic Ocean in summer will very likely be ice free before 2050, at least temporally.

New discovery: Evidence for a 90-million-year-old rainforest near the South Pole
Researchers have found unexpected fossil traces of a temperate rainforest near the South Pole 90 million years ago, suggesting the continent had an exceptionally warm climate in prehistoric times.

From China to the South Pole: Joining forces to solve the neutrino mass puzzle
Study by Mainz physicists indicates that the next generation of neutrino experiments may well find the answer to one of the most pressing issues in neutrino physics.

Study suggests ice on lunar south pole may have more than 1 source
New research sheds light on the ages of ice deposits reported in the area of the Moon's south pole -- information that could help identify the sources of the deposits and help in planning future human exploration.

The water future of Earth's 'third pole'
One-seventh of the world's population depends on rivers flowing from Asia's high mountain ranges for water to drink and to irrigate crops.

A 3D view of climatic behavior at the third pole
Research across several areas of the 'Third Pole' -- the high-mountain region centered on the Tibetan Plateau -- shows a seasonal cycle in how near-surface temperature changes with elevation.

Pole-to-pole study of ocean life identifies nearly 200,000 marine viruses
An international team has conducted the first-ever global survey of the ecological diversity of viruses in the oceans during expeditions aboard a single sailboat.

Researchers detail marine viruses from pole to pole
New research provides the most complete account to date of the viruses that impact the world's oceans, increasing the number of known virus populations tenfold.

Read More: South Pole News and South Pole Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.