2023-2024 Science Planning Summary
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2023-2024 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

The next generation of Geospace research facilities at South Pole and McMurdo Stations

Auroras over the radome at South Pole Station. Photo by John-Michael Watson, courtesy of the NSF/USAP Photo Library
A-111-M/P/S Research Location(s): McMurdo Station, South Pole Station, Palmer Station


Event Number:
NSF / OPP Award 1643700

Program Director:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Jamee Johnson / Paul Sullivan / Randolph Jones / Sheryl Seagraves

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Andrew Gerrard
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Department of Physics


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, Palmer Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station, Palmer Station


The polar caps are specific areas around the geomagnetic poles where geomagnetic field lines are open and directly interact with the interplanetary magnetic field. Consequently, Antarctica is an ideal location for geospace research, as its land mass provides superior siting for observation of the Earth’s high geomagnetic latitude magnetic field lines, thereby facilitating studies of the polar cap, cusp, auroral zone, and the geosynchronous altitude where communications satellites orbit, and allowing for extended and continuous observations of the sun. Because of these unique aspects, Antarctic stations have long been outfitted with a variety of instrumentation for observational studies of the geospace environment. This project integrates clustered instrumentation at all three USAP stations to examine the entire Geospace system. Instruments include ground-based fluxgate and search-coil magnetometers, extremely low (ELF), very-low (VLF), and high frequency (HF) receivers, imaging and broadband riometers, sky-looking optical systems, and GPS scintillation-rated receivers, and more. Much of this equipment has a long, rich history and is decades old, having been installed in the 1980s (or earlier!).

Field Season Overview

No on-site field work is to be performed by the science team this year. The instruments will continue to operate autonomously, year-round, via remote monitoring and control, aided by on-site support provided by ASC staff and other station infrastructure (IT network, station services, etc.) as needed.