Science Technical Support

An Antarctic design engineer demonstrates a remotely operated penguin nest camera. The camera is mounted on a tripod, weighed down with rocks, and sheltered from the worst of the weather inside Pelican cases.
Science Technical Support Design Leader, Kym Newbery (right), demonstrates a remotely operated penguin nest camera. The camera is mounted on a tripod, weighed down with rocks, and sheltered from the worst of the weather inside Pelican cases (black box under Kym’s hand). (Photo: AAD)
Penguins walk over an automated penguin monitoring system set up over rocks near the colony.Australian Antarctic Division Science Technical Support technician, Mark Milnes, monitors experimental equipment inside a shipping container in Antarctica.A diver installs a mini-chamber under the sea ice for ocean acidification experiments.An engineer and scientist make the final inspections to a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) before its first test deployment into water

The Science Technical Support (STS) unit develops and maintain the technology and scientific facilities needed to support Antarctic science. There are six work units:

Marine science support

Marine Science Support provides technical support for marine science activities. This includes running a fleet of containerised labs, workshops and storage facilities.

Technical services

The Technical Services Group provides electronic and technical computing support for the Australian Antarctic Division science program, including construction, maintenance, management and deployment of instrumentation systems for both marine and terrestrial science programs. This includes equipment such as CTDs (conductivity, temperature and depth profilers), underwater camera systems, atmospheric radars, LIDARs, tide gauges and data acquisition systems located on the ship, at the stations and at remote field sites. In support of this work, the Technical Services Group also manages the electronics laboratory, which contains electronics assembly and test equipment as well as environmental test chamber facilities.

STS design

The STS Design Group designs the instrumentation and equipment for scientific programs undertaken by the Australian Antarctic Division and other agencies as part of Australia’s Antarctic Program. This equipment and instrumentation includes ice radar systems, ultra-low power automatic weather stations, underwater oceanographic equipment, optical and RF (radio frequency) systems used in atmospheric and space physics.

STS Design Group provides engineering design expertise to the Australian Antarctic Division science program as well as internal and external clients, covering electronics design and manufacture, scientific instrumentation and software design. The group has specialised skills in electronic systems, software and mechatronics.

Instrument workshop

The instrument workshop designs, manufactures, modifies and repairs mechanical instruments for everything from moving mirrors in a LIDAR system, with accuracies of billionths of a metre, through to making drills to sample ice a kilometre from the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet.

Electron microscopes

The Electron Microscopy Unit has two electron microscopes which are often used in tandem, particularly for biological research. We have a Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FESEM) for studying surface details, a Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) for studying specimen ultrastructure, and associated preparation equipment for biological samples.


Laboratory Services maintains the laboratories and their equipment at the Antarctic stations, on ships, and at our headquarters in Kingston.