Antarctic video gallery
Life’s a Béche
Life’s a Béche
Just a few kilometres from Mawson research station…
…Béchervaise Island could be on another planet
Kim Kliska, Field biologist “Yes, Béchervaise does look like — a bit like a space station on Mars. The Googies behind us are our living and our workspace, so there’s only three of those. So very limited space, and if the weather’s bad that’s all we have, really, compared to the station — it’s quite different.”
Marcus Salton, Field biologist “While we’re out here on Béchervaise Island on our own, it’s quite peaceful aside from the noises of the penguins.
Biologists live on the island during summer to study seabirds
The Adélie penguin population here has been monitored for decades
Marcus “It’s a long standing program, been going for 30 years and it is quite unusual and quite unique. It’s because it’s about the life span of a penguin so we can start to look at things happening through time such as changes in their breeding success and how that’s linked with changes in their environment.”
Kim “Penguins are an indicator species, so we use the Adélies here to look at how much krill is in the local ecosystem, and that’s really important. We have these weighbridge systems, and as the penguins come and go we get the weights as they’re coming in and as they’re going out, so we can look at how much krill they’re actually feeding their chicks.”
Automatic cameras take photos every day throughout the year
Marcus “From those photos we can look at when the penguins are arriving, when they’re departing and how many eggs are laid and how many chicks are produced.”
Counts show that 1500 breeding pairs live here, out of a regional population of 80,000 pairs
Kim “Studying penguins is really glamorous! They’re quite smelly, so living here — we live out here for a few weeks — and yes, you become really used to the smell, to the point where you don’t notice it. Yes, they’re just fascinating. It is an amazing job.”
This RAAF mission to Casey station is testing new ways to resupply from the air.
Matt Filipowski, Australian Antarctic Division “The addition of low-cost chutes and precision-guided chutes is a first as we understand it, so we’re certainly for Antarctica leading the game in that space.”
WGCDR Dion Wright, RAAF Australian Southern Contingent “It offers an amazing capability, particularly a precision capability, that hasn’t been available to the Australian Antarctic Program before.”
Low-cost parachutes are cheaper and easier to recover than standard ones.
Dion Wright “They’re designed to be disposable but they can be reused again once they’re brought back.”
From 750 feet, the low-cost parachutes land the cargo accurately and intact.
From much higher altitudes, the precision system uses GPS to guide the parachute to a designated target.
Matt Filipowski “The parachute is a traditional type of parachute but it’s actually controlled by a machine that guides and pulls on the risers, as they’re called, to actually steer the parachute. It does the job of what a human usually does underneath a guided parachute.”
You can hear the guidance motors steering the parachute.
From an altitude of 10,000 feet, it lands within 30 metres of the target.
Matt Filipowski “That gives us a number of advantages — we can be further away from wildlife or completely removed, so reducing noise.”
This will be used for resupplying inland convoys or remote camps.
Dion Wright “It will enhance the ability for the ADF to contribute to Australia’s Antarctic Program, it’ll enable us to throw things out of the back of the aircraft with these systems, at the right time and the right way in a safe and efficient manner.”
Australia’s proposed Antarctic aerodrome open for comment
Australia’s proposed Antarctic aerodrome open for comment
The initial proposal for a new aerodrome in Antarctica is now publicly available.
Kim Ellis, Director, Australian Antarctic Division In 2016, the Australian Government launched a strategy and action plan for Antarctica and this sets a new era and a new standard for Australia’s engagement in Antarctica.
Kim Ellis “It also foreshadowed the work to develop a paved aerodrome at Davis Station.”
The proposed aerodrome will enable more ambitious science
It will provide year-round access and improve emergency response.
Kim Ellis “It will transform the science we’re able to deliver in Antarctica. At the moment we’re constrained by a very narrow summer window to get our logistics in and out and our scientists work is limited by that operational window.”
The proposal includes a 2,700m long runway, aircraft apron, and buildings.
Scientists have been on the ground for several years to build an understanding of the site.
The project will have a high level of environmental scrutiny, nationally and internationally.
Kim Ellis “There will undoubtedly be some environmental impacts and the process we’re going through now will ensure those impacts are minimised and mitigated where possible through alternative construction methodology or changes to the design and operation of the airfield.”
Kim Ellis “Over the 60 years that Australia has been involved in Antarctica we’ve set a very high benchmark for all our activities and operations and this project is no exception.”
This former Limerick lad has swapped the green hills of Ireland for the icy shores of Antarctica.
Michael Keating Kearney, New Australian Citizen “It feels very privileged and very unique to have my ceremony down here in Antarctica, I’m very happy its turned out to be a wonderful day.
Michael is a carpenter at Casey research station. In Australia for 9 years, he’s become an Australian citizen in the coolest way possible.
Michael Keating Kearney, New Australian Citizen “I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people.”
Justin Ross, Deputy Station Leader “Please join me in welcoming our newest Australian citizen. This is my first citizenship ceremony, so I was understandably a little nervous, but I am immensely proud to have this opportunity to be the presiding officer for Michael’s special day.”
Michael Keating Kearney, New Australian Citizen “Living in Australia is very good, it’s a good culture, good people, the work is great. Feeling very happy, very excited and very grateful to be an Australian citizen.”
NASA’s icy mission
NASA’s icy mission
This buoyant robot is on its first Antarctic mission.
Voice of NASA Scientist Dr Kevin Hand; “Almost there, almost there, now just drag it some place. You’re beneath the ice.” You’re beneath the ice.”
NASA has just returned from three weeks at Casey station testing a future space robot.
NASA Scientist Dr Kevin Hand “What this vehicle does is, it floats on the underside of the ice and allows us to inspect scientifically what’s happening.”
NASA Lead Engineer Dr Andy Klesh “Including a dissolved oxygen sensor, looking at conductivity, temperature and depth and of course video images.”
NASA Scientist Dr Kevin Hand “What we saw was just stunning, the sea-ice algae dangling down like little chandeliers, the gas bubbles under the ice. We even tested the rover on a tide fracture, a crack in the ice.” We even tested the rover on a tide fracture, a crack in the ice.”
NASA Scientist Dr Kevin Hand “We learned that from navigating some of the cracks an additional wheel, to make it more like a tricycle, could be helpful. Being able to have thrusters on it, to vary our buoyancy when needed.” Being able to have thrusters on it, to vary our buoyancy when needed.”
Eventually the robot will explore another icy landscape on one of Jupiter’s moons.
NASA Scientist Dr Kevin Hand “Now of course the dream of dreams is that someday this vehicle is sufficiently small and low power and low weight, such that we could eventually get it into and beneath the ice of Europa, where we might someday find signs of life beyond Earth.
2019 Antarctic rewind
From Mawson station on the coast, the ice sheet rises to a high plateau.
Jagged mountain ranges puncture the glittering ice.
Jan Wallace, Medical Officer Up on the plateau here I just love the expanse of the horizon and the massive sky. It’s a landscape of epic proportions up here, and the mountainscapes around us are just spectacular.
Tom Dacy, Mechanical Supervisor You don’t get many better views than what you get from Rumdoodle Hut and around the lake. There’s some great walking areas around there, and the Rumdoodle Hut this year, we’ve given it a bit of a refurb, so it’s in top condition.
A team of expeditioners from Mawson station is heading 20km inland to Rumdoodle.
Star of the convoy is a well-worn four-tracked monster.
Tom Dacy The Pioneer, she’s a great old girl, a brilliant machine for this sort of task. Got a lot of payload capacity, carry all our fuel, our refuelling sleds that’s needed, and any cargo back to station. It’s a good overland vehicle for the Antarctic conditions.
They mark out an 800 metre runway for flights between Antarctic stations.
Jan Wallace We’re about to receive a plane here from Davis station, so I’m up here in several roles. Hopefully not as the doctor, cos that would be part of an emergency response. Today I’ve been the Hagg driver, and chauffeur for the new passengers coming home.
This area has been used for aviation in the Australian Antarctic Territory since the 1960s
Tom Dacy Normally we’d use the sea ice as a landing area, but the sea ice is no longer usable due to deterioration, so we’ve come up here with all our equipment to receive the plane and its passengers.
Today’s weather report: visibility ‘unlimited.’
Conditions are right for a perfect landing.
‘Rumdoodle International Airport’ is open for summer travel!
Bedrock topography and ice streams beneath the ice sheet of Antarctica
Australian Antarctic Expedition Mechanic, Amy Chetcuti I’m Amy, or Chucs, and I’m an expedition mechanic down here. It’s my first winter.
What does Amy’s year in Antarctica look like?
Want to take your career south?
Applications are open now
Amy Chetcuti I would definitely do it again!
These heavy-haul tractors have had an extreme makeover.
In Antarctica they’ll endure temperatures down to minus 50 degrees.
AAD Director, Kim Ellis “So we’ve put heaters in the transmission, heaters in the engines, we’ve double glazed the cab, we’ve closed the engine cowlings off to reduce impact of blizzards.”
They’ve also been given a glitzy Australiana paint job.
With vibrant Ken Done designs of the beach, reef, gum trees and outback.
Kim Ellis “Even from a distance it will tell you Australia is here, and then when you get close these snapshots of pieces of Australia represented on the highest and coldest parts of the Antarctic.”
The tractors will lead a traverse train 1200kms inland.
Kim Ellis “It really is a return to this great age of exploration. So we are taking a group of tractors, towing a 500 tonne station, thousands of kilometres across the Antarctic ice, it is the most exciting things you could possibly do.”
The traverse team will initially support scientists drilling for an ice core dating back more than a million years.
All the machinery will be flown to Antarctica over the following months.