2002-2003 Science Planning Summary

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Table of Contents

Project Indexes USAP Program overviews Station schedules & overviews Technical Events


  During a 57-day journey, Norwegian Roald Amundsen with four team members and 18 dogs arrived at the South Pole on December 14, 1911. Amundsen returned to his base at the Bay of Whales without mishap.  
  Englishman Robert Scott's expedition reached the South Pole a month later on January 17, 1912 only to discover the Norwegian flag already flying. All members of the Scott party, disheartened by the defeat and weakened by a lack of food, perished on the journey back to the coast.  
  In 1957, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was established and has operated year-around ever since. A new station was occupied in 1975 and named Siple Dome after the station's first scientific leader, Paul Siple. A third station is now under construction.  
  The South Pole Station elevation is 2,900 meters; however the equivalent pressure elevation, based on polar atmospheric conditions, will vary from 3,300 to 4,000 meters. No landmarks are visible on the 3,000-meter-thick plateau of ice, located 1,350 km from McMurdo Station. Scientific research at the station falls into the general disciplines of upper-atmosphere physics, meteorology, earth sciences, geophysics, glaciology, biomedicine, and astrophysics.  
  From the first station construction through 1999, the Navy [Antarctic Development Squadron Six (VXE-6)] flew various aircraft in support of the U.S. Antarctic Program, including LC-130 and Twin Otter aircraft. In 1998 the Air Force/Air National Guard took over support of the USAP air transportation (Operation Deep Freeze) from the Navy. VXE-6 continued to augment the Air National Guard with LC-130 flights until March 1999. The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, which had augmented VXE-6 since 1988, became the sole USAP provider of LC-130 aircraft support, beginning with the 1999/2000 field season.  
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station will be open for normal 2002-2003 austral-summer research and operations activities on 30 October 2002. An operational opening on 23 October 2002 will precede this normal opening. The operational opening consists of station turnover duties between the incoming and outgoing support crew in preparation for the upcoming summer activities.  
One of the many constraints at South Pole is population, which has an established upper limit of 220 people. This number represents a continuation of the previous season's efforts as construction of the new South Pole Station proceeds into its sixth season. As the station will be operating at or near population capacity for most of the summer season, conservation of resources such as power and water consumption are again paramount.  
The austral-summer to austral-winter transition is scheduled for 15 February 2003. A support crew of about 60 people will remain to maintain station operations, continue new station construction and scientific research for the austral-winter from 16 February 2003 until November 2003.  


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