British Antarctic Survey Leverages Ruggedized Data Transport

Antarctica inhabits a unique place in the human exploration mythos. The vast expanse of uninhabitable land twice the size of Australia has birthed legendary stories of human perseverance and cautionary tales about the indomitable force of nature. However, since those early years, Antarctica has become a rich research center for all different kinds of data collection – from climate change, to biology, to seismic and more. And although today there are many organizations with field stations running this data collection, the nature of its, well, nature still presents daily challenges that technology has had a hand in helping address.

Can You Send Data Through Snow?

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) – of recent Boaty McBoatface fame – has been collecting data from its field station network for more than 60 years. Over that time, BAS has become a global leader for polar science and polar operations, collecting data on sediments, ice cores, the polar atmosphere and the ever-changing ice shelves – all of which are vitally important for helping predict the climate of the future.

To collect this data, BAS required a network that could reliably transmit it in what could be considered one of the harshest environments on the planet. This means deploying GPS equipment, motion and atmospheric sensors, radios and more that could stand up to the daily tests.

In order to collect and transport the data in this harsh environment, BAS needed a ruggedized solution that could handle both the freezing temperatures (-58 degrees F in the winter), strong winds and snow accumulation. Additionally, the solution needed to be low power due to the region’s lack of power infrastructure.

The Solution

BAS found that FreeWave’s 900 MHz radios could handle this myriad of requirements. The organization deployed 19 radios across its network, each connected to a remote GPS station containing sensors that track the movement of the Brunt Ice Shelf near one of the primary research stations. The GPS sensors determine the Shelf’s position and dynamics before sending the data back to the station.

There are several other specs that make the deployment of these radios operationally viable for British Antarctic Survey, but to find out more check out our case study with all the details: http://www.freewave.com/case-studies/british-antarctic-survey/!

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