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Morale Program Initiatives for the U.S. Antarctic Program 2023-24 Season

August 4, 2023

For the upcoming Antarctic research season (2023-2024), NSF is implementing several changes to morale-related activities across the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP).

USAP will be implementing a two-phase roll-out of Starlink. First, Starlink will be available for morale use at McMurdo and at Palmer Stations this coming season. This will be a continuation of the current 24x7 accessibility rolled out recently at both sites this winter. Additionally, an Antarctic Infrastructure Recapitalization (AIR) project is in development for execution in a future season that will refresh necessary station infrastructures to expand Starlink use at McMurdo Station in dorms and other spaces. Starlink will not yet be available at South Pole Station as USAP continues to assess the potential impacts and interference with science at that site.

There will also be several changes to recreation spaces at McMurdo Station to continue to diversify morale spaces.

  • One recreation space will be designated alcohol-free to meet the requests heard from the community to provide additional spaces that do not center around alcohol. Creating alcohol-free locations at other USAP stations is being explored.
  • The remaining spaces will no longer sell alcohol but will allow alcohol consumption, turning the spaces into “bring-your-own” for alcoholic beverages deployers have purchased at the station store.
  • USAP is investigating introducing specialty drink and/or snack options at these club sites.
  • The Chalet will be transitioned into additional recreation space. Details are currently in development and will be shared when available.
  • A re-assessment of morale and recreation opportunities is also underway.

The NSF and Office of Polar Programs continue to emphasize the mental health of all deployers and will have a counselor available to all participants for both the summer and winter seasons. Furthermore, as a continuation of the USAP Sexual Assault/Harassment Prevention and Response (SAHPR) program resources, there will be a victim advocate available to participants this summer on-site at McMurdo Station and with visits planned to the South Pole and Palmer Stations.

More information will be shared with deployers as it develops as part of the pre-deployment information.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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