Argentina operates more permanent and seasonal Antarctic bases than any other nation. The station teams require up to date weather and navigation information as well as needing to regularly communicate large amounts of scientific data, all operating in the harsh and challenging environment. Teams manning the scientific research stations required the latest updated mapping and navigation information primarily for safety, but also to assist their research.
To achieve this, they needed to maintain communication with the support icebreaker vessel, and maintain high throughput communications for scientific data transfer whilst under the challenge of an extremely harsh environment and low look-angle to geostationary satellites.
The tough CONNECT100T was selected for operations at Belgrano II, Argentina’s southernmost permanent Antarctic base, being ideally suited to operations due to its aperture size and power, and capability to still deliver high throughput even over low look angles.
The compact and rugged HORNET provided the same aperture size whilst offering lightweight portability, supporting transportation between the 6 permanent stations and 7 seasonal stations.
Both terminals are rugged enough to survive repeated assembly and disassembly in harsh and challenging sub-zero environments. Both terminals provide operational commonality thanks to the integrated Paradigm Interface Module (PIM®), ruggedised environmental housing of the satellite modem and simple user interface that makes operation quick and easy, and reduces the need for training across terminals, providing confidence to non-technical users.
The combination of using both terminals ideally suited to the challenging environment and operating in low look angles allowed the teams to focus on their scientific activities. The lightweight and rugged HORNET proved easy to transport from base to base, the ideal aperture and power combination to provide high throughput communication links for data transfer and internet access, whilst the CONNECT100T delivered tough, resilient connectivity of longer term setup and use.
Assembled and operational in less than 5 minutes, the rugged HORNET provided valuable communication for the IAA science teams; the teams quickly drew confidence in the simple operation of the terminals and capable of training their colleagues.
The Antarctic environment requires a lot of preparation, so simplifying the way we do things really helps! We now have regular internet access, and can make calls whenever we want, keeping everyone in the teams updated.