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McMurdo Station

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NSF Award:

Science, Operations, and Maintenance Support for the United States Antarctic Program  (Raytheon Technical Services Company LLC)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

McMurdo Station, the largest Antarctic station, is built on the bare volcanic rock of Hut Point Peninsula on Ross Island, the solid ground farthest south that is accessible by ship.

The station was established in December 1955. It is the logistics hub of the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), with a harbor, landing strips on sea ice and shelf ice, and a helicopter pad. Its 85 or so buildings range in size from a small radio shack to large, three-story structures. Repair facilities, dormitories, administrative buildings, a firehouse, power plant, water distillation plant, wharf, stores, clubs, warehouses, and the first class Crary Lab are linked by above-ground water, sewer, telephone, and power lines.

Recorded temperature extremes have been as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius and as high as plus 8 degrees Celsius. Research is performed at and near McMurdo in aeronomy and astrophysics, biology and medicine, geology and geophysics, glaciology and glacial geology, and ocean and climate systems. Participants of the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program also work at sites near McMurdo Station.

Education & Outreach

The U.S. Antarctic Program supports a variety of education and outreach efforts to the general public, including but not limited to the following.

PolarTREC is an educational research experience in which K-12 teachers participate in polar research, working closely with scientists as a pathway to improving science education. The program’s Virtual Base Camp enables interested parties to learn about the research conducted by PolarTREC participants.

The ANDRILL Research Immersion for Science Educators (ARISE) program is open to kindergarten through college science educators from Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and the United States. All applicants must have at least three years of science teaching experience in a K-16 school or institution not including the current school year. ARISE facilitates the development of mechanisms and materials to effectively connect the Antarctic Geological Drilling program (ANDRILL) with the public. The program provides science educators with an inside view of ANDRILL, engages them in authentic Antarctic geoscience, and utilizes their expertise in education to develop and implement innovative approaches to geoscience education and public outreach.

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  • Photo of McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Jeff Scanniello