Science

Halley VI Antarctic research station opens for business

Halley VI Antarctic research s...
Halley VI, Britain’s latest and greatest Antarctic Research Station, has opened and will become fully operational over the coming weeks
Halley VI, Britain’s latest and greatest Antarctic Research Station, has opened and will become fully operational over the coming weeks
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Halley VI is located on the Brunt Ice Shelf, which is moving toward the sea at a rate of 400 meters (1,300 feet) per annum
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Halley VI is located on the Brunt Ice Shelf, which is moving toward the sea at a rate of 400 meters (1,300 feet) per annum
Halley VI will face winds of up to 90 mph (145 kph), and an average external temperature of minus 30ºC (minus 22°F)
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Halley VI will face winds of up to 90 mph (145 kph), and an average external temperature of minus 30ºC (minus 22°F)
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The research station comprises two main platforms, each of which has three interconnected modules
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The research station comprises two main platforms, each of which has three interconnected modules
The £25.8 million (US$40.6 million) facility was designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and engineering firm AECOM
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The £25.8 million (US$40.6 million) facility was designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and engineering firm AECOM
A hydroponic salad garden and climbing wall are designed to help ease claustrophobic conditions
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A hydroponic salad garden and climbing wall are designed to help ease claustrophobic conditions
The northern platform features an observation lounge which will afford dramatic panoramic views of the landscape
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The northern platform features an observation lounge which will afford dramatic panoramic views of the landscape
As well as housing researchers, Halley VI also offers additional room for summer visitors
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As well as housing researchers, Halley VI also offers additional room for summer visitors
The Halley VI research station is mounted on what are essentially hydraulically elevated skis
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The Halley VI research station is mounted on what are essentially hydraulically elevated skis
Halley VI is the most southerly research station currently operated by the BAS and access to the facility is limited to just three months per year
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Halley VI is the most southerly research station currently operated by the BAS and access to the facility is limited to just three months per year
The northern platform provides primary accommodation and features an observation lounge which will afford dramatic panoramic views of the landscape
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The northern platform provides primary accommodation and features an observation lounge which will afford dramatic panoramic views of the landscape
Halley VI was constructed over four Antarctic summers
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Halley VI was constructed over four Antarctic summers
Halley VI, Britain’s latest and greatest Antarctic Research Station, has opened and will become fully operational over the coming weeks
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Halley VI, Britain’s latest and greatest Antarctic Research Station, has opened and will become fully operational over the coming weeks
Halley VI needs to be able to withstand an average external temperature of minus 30ºC (minus 22°F)
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Halley VI needs to be able to withstand an average external temperature of minus 30ºC (minus 22°F)
Data from an earlier Halley research station led directly to the 1985 British Antarctic Survey discovery of the ozone hole
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Data from an earlier Halley research station led directly to the 1985 British Antarctic Survey discovery of the ozone hole
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Halley VI has been designed to be extremely rugged, and raised sufficiently high to stay above heavy annual snowfall
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Halley VI has been designed to be extremely rugged, and raised sufficiently high to stay above heavy annual snowfall
Materials and components were delivered across treacherous sea ice and construction teams worked around the clock
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Materials and components were delivered across treacherous sea ice and construction teams worked around the clock
Architectural sketch of Halley VI
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Architectural sketch of Halley VI
Architectural sketch of Halley VI
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Architectural sketch of Halley VI
Architectural sketch of Halley VI
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Architectural sketch of Halley VI
Architectural sketch of Halley VI
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Architectural sketch of Halley VI
Architectural sketch of Halley VI
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Architectural sketch of Halley VI
Architectural sketch of Halley VI
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Architectural sketch of Halley VI

Just over a century after Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctic expedition came to a tragic close, Britain’s latest and greatest Antarctic Research Station has opened and will become fully operational over the coming weeks. The £25.8 million (US$40.6 million) facility was designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and engineering firm AECOM, and represents a continued commitment from the UK's scientific community to maintain a cutting-edge facility in the region.

As we first reported back in 2005, the new self-sufficient research station replaces the 20-year old Halley V installation, and is the sixth such facility to occupy the floating Brunt Ice Shelf. The region has been occupied by British science stations since a Royal Society expedition in 1957 was launched to study the Earth’s magnetic field and near-space atmosphere. Data from the Halley research station led directly to the 1985 British Antarctic Survey (BAS) discovery of the ozone hole.

As well as housing researchers, Halley VI also offers additional room for summer visitors
As well as housing researchers, Halley VI also offers additional room for summer visitors

In order to cope with the extreme conditions, which include prevailing winds of up to 90 mph (145 km/h) and an average external temperature of minus 30ºC (minus 22°F), Halley VI has been designed to be extremely rugged, and raised sufficiently high to stay above heavy annual snowfall.

Halley VI is mounted on what are essentially hydraulically-elevated skis. This allows the laboratory to be periodically towed by specialist bulldozers in order to avoid becoming stranded on an iceberg broken off from the floating Brunt Ice Shelf as it moves inexorably toward the sea at a rate of 400 meters (1,300 feet) per annum.

Halley VI was constructed over four Antarctic summers
Halley VI was constructed over four Antarctic summers

Halley VI is the most southerly research station currently operated by the BAS and access to the facility is limited to just three months per year. This ensured a challenging construction process which spanned four Antarctic summers – each build period lasting nine weeks. Materials and components were delivered across treacherous sea ice and construction teams worked around the clock.

The £25.8 million (US$40.6 million) facility was designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and engineering firm AECOM
The £25.8 million (US$40.6 million) facility was designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and engineering firm AECOM

The research station comprises two main platforms, each of which has three interconnected modules. The northern platform provides primary accommodation and features an observation lounge which will afford dramatic panoramic views of the landscape, while its counterpart offers additional room for summer visitors.

In the center of the facility, a two-story large red unit contains a social space designed for the wellbeing of the crew, complete with a hydroponic salad garden and climbing wall.

“The long-term research investigations carried out at Halley since the 1950s have led to deeper understanding of our world,” explained Professor Alan Rodger, Interim Director of BAS. “In half a century, society has been alerted to our changing climate, about the possibility that melting ice in the Polar Regions will increase sea-level rise, and that human activity can have an impact on the natural environment.”

Sources: Hugh Broughton Architects, British Antarctic Survey via io9

14 comments
MBadgero
Nice looking house. Do they make a budget version I could buy for here in Michigan?
citizenchan
It's cool lookin. Reminiscent of a land version of the underwater habitat in the movie "Abyss."
Kirk Watson
I worked on this project for four years as a mountain instructor for scientist and also the filmmaker filming the project. Here is a wee trailer I made for the builders that built it. With the help from the brilliant workers at British Antarctic Survey. Enjoy http://kirkoftheantarctic.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/halley-vi-research-station-opened-today/
inchiki
looking at this, i get a sense of how future stations on moon and mars will appear.
Chris Davy
Great clip. Thanks Kirk, for posting.
Brad Needham
By the pic access from one main section to the other requires going "outside" and traversing a walkway platform. Why is this?
mommus
that's the coolest thing I've seen in ages (no pun intended) I love the video too
Susan Clarke
Great to see the station, great design but why not mention of the team that put the blood, seat and tears into building the project through ALL the challenges such a remote , hostile environment presents. Fabulous team who really put themselves into this project, they desrve to be recognised.
britons
KIRK , NICE WORK . I WISH MORE PEOPLE WHO SUBSCRIBE TO GIZMAG AND HAVE WORKED ON PROJECTS OR RELATED SUBJECTS DESCRIBED AT THIS SITE WOULD SHARE KNOWLEDGE OF SUCH THINGS . I KNOW THEY ARE OUT THERE AS I AM ONE OF THEM , AND HAVE TRIED TO ENLIGHTEN OTHERS WITH INSIDE INFORMATION . BECAUSE YOU WERE THERE , YOU ARE IN A UNIQUE POSITION TO MAKE READERS AWARE OF THIS ENTERPRISE PLUS A LINK TO THE VIDEO . TOO COOL ... THANKS BROTHER
MikeG
>>By the pic access from one main section to the other requires going "outside" and traversing a walkway platform. Why is this? 1) It appears it's used as a kind of loading dock (see pic #16) 2) The text seems to indicate a kind of deliberate isolation between the front and the back.