The National Science Foundation (NSF) has operated the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) since its inception in the 1950s. Program scientists perform a variety of critical research projects there that rely heavily on communications with the outside world—for transmission of research data for analysis, for contact with other researchers in the U.S. and other regions of the world, for personal communications between the Antarctica staff and their families and others, and for many other purposes.
USAP facilities have relied on a microwave link to connect them to an offshore satellite station for over thirty years. Technology from Aviat Networks has been used for that job since 2006. The company worked with principal contractor Leidos to upgrade the technology to serve growing USAP needs, and in 2017, a new system was turned up successfully. It now keeps U.S. installations in Antarctica connected to the world.
For decades, the National Science Foundation has run three Antarctic research stations—McMurdo, Palmer, and Amundsen-Scott South Pole—in its role as manager of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). A communications station on Black Island, located twenty miles off the Antarctica mainland near McMurdo Station, provides a connection with the outside world.
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