The ridge viewed from the station's roof - © International Polar Foundation

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BELARE 2010-2011: A busy season

A polar research facility first and foremost, the Princess Elisabeth Station on Utsteinen Ridge is set to face its most intense scientific season to date in its third year of scientific use. Some work will also be carried out on the station itself: stress test sessions are scheduled and parts of the station’s infrastructure will be updated for better overall performance and efficiency.

Furthering Science

All scientists going to Utsteinen this year will continue their work on multi-year projects those of you following the website for several years will already have heard of: BELDIVA, BELATMOS, BELISSIMA, HYDRANT or GIANT.

Amongst these, BELISSIMA has a special place in our hearts, since it was the first science project to take place at the station and to make use of the available infrastructure. Once again, Frank Pattyn, Jean-Louis Tison and their team will return to Antarctica to analyse ice shelf and ice sheet movements and dynamics in Antarctica in order to improve scientific models.

Following the success of last year's JARE 51 project meteorite search expedition in Antarctica, Steven Goderis and Vincianne Debaille will also head to Usteinen for another meteorites hunt in the framework of the SAMBA project.

These various projects will further be a fine opportunity to test the specially designed mobile laboratories for field research.

BELARE 2010-2011: Upgrades & Logistics

For the second year in a row, the ship to be used for the BELARE expedition will be the Danish icebreaker Mary Arctica, which is to set sails from Zeebrugge on November 8th, 2010, once loaded. The first team will fly to Antarctica on the 5th of November.

While the construction of the station was rounded up two years ago, the station was donated to the Belgian State by the International Polar Foundation in April 2010. The station, now managed by the Belgian Polar Secretariat, will have some significant updates made over the course of the 2010-2011 season.

Waking up from its winter sleep and having faced the hardships of the Antarctic winter, the first event that awaits the “zero emission” station will be the tests and checks for possible malfunctions of its technical systems. With systems thoroughly tested, the team will set to simplify the water treatment system, making for an upgraded efficiency. A new snow melter unit will also be installed.

Princess Elisabeth will soon house new backup generators. Their updated configuration will  enable improved communication with the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) managing the station’s systems.

A final upgrade scheduled for the station in 2010-2011, will be the capacity increase of the solar panels, which should lead to a substantial upgrade of their efficiency.

As usual, the web team will do its best to keep you updated on what’s going on in Utsteinen. Stay tuned for what looks like a busier than ever Antarctic season.

Author: IPF

Picture: The ridge viewed from the station's roof - © International Polar Foundation

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