Facts about the NSF and the United States Antarctic Program
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May 4, 2015

Facts about the NSF and the United States Antarctic Program

The following information clarifies facts regarding the United States Antarctic Program and which are relevant to a prominent article in the May 4 edition of The New York Times.

Per Presidential Memorandum 6646, signed by president Reagan in 1982, the National Science Foundation coordinates the U.S. Antarctic Program on behalf of the U.S. government.

To meet this Presidential mandate, NSF, through the Division of Polar Programs and others, supports investigators nationwide to pursue research that is best done or can only be done in Antarctica. The research support is awarded through a competitive merit review process.

In addition to this direct science support, the Division of Polar Programs is responsible for managing infrastructure and logistics to support that research as well as that of other government agencies, including NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This includes operations of three year-round stations in Antarctica—McMurdo, Amundsen-Scott South Pole and Palmer—and two research vessels, the Laurence M. Gould and the Nathaniel B. Palmer, that operate in the Southern Ocean.

The Division also manages a prime contract for logistics support, currently awarded to Antarctic Support Contract (ASC), a division of Lockheed Martin, and coordinates with the U.S. military and other agencies to provide support such as airlift and icebreaking.

Division of Polar Programs/Geosciences Directorate
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Arlington, VA


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Curator: Webmaster, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Peter West, Office of Polar Programs