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Halley VI: The World’s First Modular Research Station in Antarctica Can Climb Through Snow
Halley Research Stations, run by the British Antarctic Survey, are dedicated to exploring the Earth’s atmosphere. The data collected at Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, where the stations are located, has provided vital information on ozone depletion, which led to the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in 1985. The new research station will continue to gather data on atmospheric chemistry, sea-level rise and climate change.
The Brunt Ice shelf, located on the coast of northern Coats Land in Antarctica, is a 100-meter-thick floating area of ice that moves several hundred meters a year towards the ocean. The new Halley station is the sixth station to be built since 1956 to study changing weather patterns. The first four were all buried by snow accumulation and crushed by the shifting ice until they were inhabitable. The fifth, still in operation, was built on steel legs that are now encased in 75-feet of moving ice.
Halley VI features ski-based modules that were designed to respond to the rising snow and ice levels. Large hydraulic legs enable the station to remain above the ground and adjust to the amount of snow. As the ice shelf moves towards the ocean, the station can be lowered onto the skis and relocated to a location further inland.
The station is constructed as a caravan that is perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction, with modules connected by short, flexible corridors. While the blue modules house regular monitoring and research activities, the red central one is designed as a common area, with a kitchen and spaces for recreation. The interiors are equipped with a hydroponic salad garden, and a color palette was chosen to help the crew in coping with continuous darkness during the polar wintertime.
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