America's New South Pole Station

We've seen the South Pole has unique advantages. But living and working here is difficult and even dangerous. There's extreme cold, blowing snow, complete isolation for eight months of the year. To survive and do important science you need a place to support body and soul.

America's current South Pole station was built in 1975. Its centerpiece and symbol is the geodesic dome that houses offices and the galley. But drifting snow has almost covered the dome, and many other older buildings. Much of the vital infrastructure had grown old.

Image courtesy of NSF/Jerry Marty

Image courtesy of NSF/Jerry Marty

NSF is now working on a multi-year project to renovate South Pole station. This is a construction site like no other on Earth. Sub-freezing temperatures make every movement hard. It's also, literally, in the middle of nowhere. Every beam, girder, nail and piece of wood has to come in by plane, and then get moved about by heavy machinery.

Already there's been progress on a new garage. Like people, buildings down here rely on layers to keep warm!

Image courtesy of NSF/Jerry Marty

Image courtesy of NSF/Jerry Marty

These arches, eventually, will be covered with snow.

Below ground, a new power plant is up and running.

Above ground, a new satellite link will double the bandwidth for science data and increase the hours the station can communicate with the rest of the world.

And just like every construction site across the USA, the final beam on each new building gets an American flag.

Work's also begun on the main elevated section that will provide housing, laboratory space and a galley.

Image courtesy of NSF/Jerry Marty

Image courtesy of NSF/Jerry Marty

The columns are designed to let snow blow through, keeping the new station free and clear of drifts for many years.

The project's on budget and targeted for completion in 2005 when it should look something like this...

Construction in Antarctica is hard for anyone. Now let's look at another South Pole design challenge, successfully met by undergrads!


 • South Pole
Dedicated to the heroic explorers of the polar regions find information on the history of polar exploration.
 • Virtual Tour - South Pole
Take a virtual tour of the South Pole. Your tour begins in New Zealand where you will be outfitted in clothing to keep you warm while you are there.
 • The South Pole Adventure Web Page
Find out the current weather conditions at the South Pole and have one of your experiments performed by scientists working at there.
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