Speeding Internet Will Come to Antarctica


High-speed internet will reach Antarctica. This access is primarily reserved for researchers on duty at McMurdo Station.

To note, McMurdo Station is filled with scientific research throughout this year. Run by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the station attracts up to 1,000 visitors in the Antarctic summer from October to February, who travel here to conduct research on topics ranging from climate to marine science.

But despite his central role in Antarctic research, McMurdo lacks something that is common to most scientists working in 21st century laboratories: high-speed internet.

McMurdo is on the only continent without a high-speed fiber optic cable connection to the rest of the world. However, that will soon change.

Earlier this year, NSF began seriously exploring the possibility of building a fiber-optic cable that would operate along the seabed from Antarctica to its neighbors, New Zealand or Australia.

This idea was actually first conceived more than a decade ago, but had sunk because other projects were prioritized. If this latest effort to modernize Antarctica's internet succeeds, scientists say it will change research and everyday life on the frozen continent.

"This will change the fundamental experience of living in Antarctica," said Peter Neff, a glaciologist and research assistant professor at the University of Minnesota.

Patrick Smith, manager of technology development at NSF, said researchers currently working in Antarctica rely on low-bandwidth satellites to communicate with the outside world. Compared to a typical rural household, the amount of available bandwidth per person at McMurdo is limited.

Researchers often have to store their data on hard drives to physically take home instead of exporting it for their colleagues to analyze in real time. These conditions create obstacles that slow down the process of scientific research.

With the advent of high-speed internet, daily life and research at McMurdo Station will change a lot. Researchers can live stream daily operations instead of relying on archival recorders, weather forecasts can be improved, satellite imagery can be analyzed in real time, and project participation can be extended beyond those doing research on the ground.

On the other hand, while high-speed internet connections can offer many benefits, some scientists are also concerned about how such a change will impact the culture at McMurdo Station.

"Another important conversation is how it will change the way communities function. Antarctic research stations are close-knit communities because of their isolated nature," Neff said.

Full connectivity can change a lot, including how researchers interact with each other and how focused they are on fieldwork and at home.

"Improving access to communications will remove some of the burden, make it easier for (people) to be deployed in the field, and expand the experience to people who can't implement it. We see this as a transformative opportunity," he concluded.

Speeding Internet Will Come to Antarctica Speeding Internet Will Come to Antarctica Reviewed by thecekodok on 5:07:00 AM Rating: 5
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