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National Science Foundation
U.S. research activities in Antarctica
Table of Contents
I. Some reasons to perform scientific research in the Antarctic
II. Season project highlights, 2008-2009
III. Construction highlights, 2008-2009
IV. Environmental protection; waste management
V. Personnel, Stations, and Camps
VI. Support Operations, 2008-2009
VII. United States Antarctic Policy and Achievements
VIII. National Science Foundation
XI. U.S. Antarctic Program aircraft and supply ship operations, 2008-2009season
U.S. Antarctic Program research project list, 2008-2009
PDF Version (359 KB)
OPP Information
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OPP 09-001 November 2008
Construction Highlights

  1. McMurdo Power and Water Plant Upgrade. The current McMurdo Power Plant was completed and brought on line in 1982 with equipment that was specified in the 1970’s design of the new facility. The facility is presently the only centralized power generation plant for McMurdo Station with emergency power provided by distributed units. The distributed units are not capable of providing power to all facilities. Therefore, any significant failure in the present power plant could require shutting down a portion of the station.

    The plant upgrades will add redundancy to the power and the water systems by placing both power generation and water production in each of the water and the power plants, eliminating the single point of failure scenario for both systems without increasing the footprint on the station. The use of more efficient engines and the addition of heat recovery from both the engine jacket and exhaust gases will decrease the fuel required to operate the station.

    Phase II of Power Plant construction began in the austral summer of FY08 with final acceptance scheduled for January 2010.

  2. McMurdo Fuel Tanks Upgrade. This project will add four 2-million gallon fuel storage tanks, one 2-million gallon redundant tank and associated distribution systems at McMurdo. Currently, a fuel tanker delivers petroleum products to McMurdo station every year.The additional storage capacity provides risk mitigation should there be circumstances that delay or prevent a scheduled tanker. Installation of additional fuel tanks at McMurdo station will also produce sufficient storage capacity to potentially skip delivery of fuel every fourth year, thus saving annualized shipping costs of approximately $4.5 M. The projectincludes the construction of a pump house to transfer fuel from the redundant tank back to the existing and proposed storage tanks, which will replace the existing AN8/JP5 pump facility (Building 150).

  3. South Pole Station Modernization Project. Major construction and renovation have replaced most of the 30-year-old South Pole Station’s central facilities, which exceeded their design life and could not meet projected science demands. Construction to date has included a new fuel storage facility, a new garage and shop, a new electric power plant, the kitchen and dining room, living facilities, station services, medical facilities, science labs, emergency power plant, store/post office, food-growth chamber, and computer lab. The 2005-2006 austral summer represented a major project milestone with conditional occupancy and transition of all related station operations into the new Elevated Station. In addition, the station’s old communication center was relocated from the Dome to the Elevated Station.

    Construction of the Logistics Facility is scheduled to be completed and the facility will be occupied in FY09. The new station was formally dedicated in January 2008.

  4. Palmer Station Improvements. Anew 1,567 square foot science research building was constructed in FY06 for electronic observations and the installation of atmospheric monitoring equipment. Design for replacement of the station’s pier began in FY07.

  5. National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Site Survey, 10Mb/s Communications. The first field component of the NSF-NPOESS collaboration to install NPOESS satellite weather data receptor earth stations will be initiated in the 2007-2008 austral summer at McMurdo Station. This first phase consists of an upgrade to McMurdo broadband satellite communications from 3 Mb/s to 10 Mb/s. This will be accomplished by NPOESS and NSF-funded upgrades to the NSF-owned 7.2 meter satellite earth station antenna located at the Black Island Telecommunications Facility (BITF). Black Island is approximately 22 miles south of McMurdo Station and its location allows unobstructed view to the low elevations of geosynchronous communications satellites. The BITF supports the current operational satellite earth station (11 meter antenna) and a decommissioned earth station (7.2 meter antenna). The decommissioned earth station will be refurbished to operate at Ku-Band and will initiate a new 10 Mb/s service obtained via a NPOESS service contract on the OPTUS D1 satellite. Once decommissioned, the existing C-b\Band service provided by the 11-meter antenna via INTELSAT 701 will be discontinued. The 11-meter antenna will refurbished for a 60/20 Mb/s services via OPTUS D1 in future seasons to serve as the final communications solution for NSF and NPOESS receptor operations. The refurbished 7.2-meter antenna provides gap-filling service at increased data rates during the refurbishment of the 11-meter systems. The change to 10Mb/s service is scheduled for January 2009.
 
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