Special Research Technical Support
U.S. Antarctic Program - Information For Proposers Section United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo

The organizations below provide special technical support to U.S. Antarctic Program field projects. Proposals for research in Antarctica must include a summary document from that organization in the supplemental documents section.

High Precision Global Positioning System (GPS)
Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
Polar Ice Core Drilling Services

Special Notice Regarding UNAVCO Support for GPS, LIDAR, and Power Systems

There is a procedural change for principal investigators requesting UNAVCO resources for geodetic GPS, LIDAR, and power systems for the upcoming 2010-11 Antarctic field season.

The completion of the UNAVCO online support request form (see GPS and LIDAR sections below) is required at the time of POLAR ICE Support Information Packet (SIP) submission. This is in addition to completing the appropriate form in POLAR ICE (under Services). UNAVCO staff will contact you based on this submission to discuss your project needs and provide a letter of support commitment.

UNAVCO and Antarctic Support Contract (ASC) are streamlining the mechanics of requesting UNAVCO support and moving the request details from POLAR ICE to the standard UNAVCO project support request form, which should allow for better planning and tracking of project requirements.

Your patience is appreciated during this transition, as you may be asked to provide duplicate information.  Please direct questions about the change to Bjorn Johns:

Bjorn Johns
UNAVCO Polar Services Manager
6350 Nautilus Drive
Boulder, CO  80301
Cell: 720.320.7531

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High Precision Global Positioning System (GPS)

The National Science Foundation has an agreement with UNAVCOExternal Non-U.S. government site to assist principal investigators with high-precision and high-accuracy geospatial measurements in Antarctica using the GPS.

This support is specifically intended for projects that need sub-meter resolution or have other unique needs. UNAVCO maintains a pool of polar-ready, geodetic quality receivers for portable, campaign, and permanent installations, as well as equipment and expertise to support the telemetry of data.

Support can include assistance in project planning and experiment design; deployment of a UNAVCO field engineer to assist with your project, training in the use of GPS receivers, and training in processing and archiving GPS data including using the UNAVCO archive.

To obtain UNAVCO support, do the following:

  1. Request proposal support from UNAVCO by filling out their request formExternal Non-U.S. government site.
  2. Obtain from UNAVCO a summary of the support required, and upload this summary as a Supplementary Document in your proposal.
  3. On the Operational Requirements Worksheets, specify the number of receivers required, the time needed to complete the GPS fieldwork, and the in-field engineering required from UNAVCO. Describe how the work will be done, including any need for permanent markers. Contact UNAVCO if you need help developing this information.
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Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)

LIDAR is a technique for making precise distance measurements over broad areas and is useful for creating three-dimensional images of surfaces. The NSF has an agreement with UNAVCO to provide ground-based LIDAR equipment and supportExternal Non-U.S. government site. Contact UNAVCO and treat the support as for UNAVCO GPS support described above.

For airborne LIDAR, NSF has an agreement with the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM)External Non-U.S. government site at the University of Florida to support research projects, including work in Antarctica. Interested principal investigators should contact NCALMExternal Non-U.S. government site and the appropriate NSF Antarctic Program OfficerExternal U.S. government site before submitting their proposal.

NCALM requires a proposal, from which they will develop a budget to be incorporated into the NSF proposal as a sub-award. The LIDAR portion of the project must also be described and justified in the peer-reviewed sections of the proposal submitted to that solicitation.

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Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)

The NSF encourages proposals for use of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data in oceanography, sea-ice research, glaciology, and geology. Under an agreement between NASA and NSF, an earth station has been put into operation at McMurdo, enabling SAR data to be acquired from a large part of Antarctica.

For areas north of 79°S, data are available from the European Remote Sensing Satellite ERS-2 and the Canadian satellite RADARSAT. Opportunities exist for interferometric studies using ERS-2 data collected with a one-day separation between images. The first Antarctic imaging campaign was completed with RADARSAT on October 20, 1997, and a mosaic map was completed in 2001. A mission in 2002 mapped the perimeter of the continent and studied surface velocity of ice.

Access to data is regulated according to international agreements between NASA and the foreign flight agency responsible for the satellite. For archived ERS-1 and ERS-2, data received through McMurdo are available through the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF)External Non-U.S. government site at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, which is sponsored by NASA. All other Antarctic SAR data from ERS-1 and ERS-2 must be requested through the European Space AgencyExternal Non-U.S. government site.

Antarctic RADARSAT data are available through the ASF to NASA-approved investigators. Agreements between NASA and the space agencies require you to be an approved user to obtain ASF's SAR-related data. Investigators submitting proposals to the U.S. Antarctic Program for analysis of SAR data must also submit a copy of the proposal to NASA to receive data credits in accordance with the appropriate memorandum of understanding.

For more information about SAR data, contact the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF)External Non-U.S. government site. For U.S. Antarctic Program information, contact the OPP program officerExternal U.S. government site for your area of research.

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Polar Ice Core Drilling Services

The NSF Office of Polar Programs (OPP) has established two entities to support, advise, and conduct ice coring and drilling for polar research. The first, the Ice Drilling Program Office (IDPO), is a university collaboration comprising Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. IDPO will provide scientific leadership and oversight of ice coring and drilling activities funded by NSF.

In its latter role, the IDPO will oversee the second entity, the Ice Drilling Design and Operations group (IDDO) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as it works to support field parties that need ice coring or other types of drilling in Antarctica, Greenland, and high alpine (including non-polar) areas. IDDO will also undertake engineering design and construction of new drilling systems, and will maintain existing drilling systems.

To include any kind of support from IDDO as part of your proposed project, you should notify the relevant NSF program director and email IDPO at least six weeks before you submit your proposal. The email is received by the IDPO collaborators and by IDDO. Personnel from IDDO contact you to discuss your needs and provide a cost estimate, which must be included as Supplemental Information with your proposal.

Forms and related information can be found on the U.S. Ice Drilling Program web siteExternal Non-U.S. government site. Researchers interested in drilling support should see the For Scientists pageExternal Non-U.S. government site for detailed information.

Investigators who plan to request technical support from IDDO should include with their proposal a cost estimate (budget and justification) for the equipment or drilling support that would be required from IDDO if the project is funded. This information is in addition to the regular budgets included with the proposal.


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Curator: Ethan Norris, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Peter West/Jessie Crain, Division of Polar Programs