Fiber optic cable in Antarctica? – Coming soon!
The island has long been an object of fascination for scholars and travelers of all kinds. It was previously believed to be A land known only in myths, the existence of which in the south was only guessed at. Along with at the end of the 19th century thanks to whale hunters and William Smith the continent turned out to really exist, which is A great area to explore.
Antarctica is the world’s only uninhabited continent. Well, maybe not quite. According to Wikipedia, this land is home to Research stations of about 30 countries. The number of researchers and support staff on the continent and nearby islands ranges from about 1,100 people in winter to about four times that number in summer.Many stations operate year-round, with winter staff typically arriving for one year.
Science makes demands
It is not uncommon for us as a society to find that life without the Internet is very difficult in today’s reality. This is known primarily to scientists, whose laboratories are obligatorily equipped with high-speed Internet connections.
The Verge reports that earlier this year, the NSF began seriously considering a fiber-optic cable that would run through the ocean floor, from Antarctica to neighboring New Zealand or Australia. This is not the first mention of its kind, as the idea of a fiber-optic cable to the South had already guided scientists many years ago, although other projects took precedence.
Many researchers say that such an investment would provide much better living conditions and improve the ability to do research in the ice desert.
What it looks like now?
Antarctica is connected to the network using satellites with very low bandwidth to communicate with the outside world. As Patrick Smith, who is the manager of the. technology development at NSF, the capacity available per person is very limited, not comparable to a rural farm.
Scientists at McMurdo are forced to store their data on external hard drives so that they can physically transfer it to their lab mates only in their homes. Journalists at The Verge not rightly describe this state of research as Bottlenecks. As we know there are various problems associated with this, but for science the most important is one – slowing down research.
The first steps behind us
In June, NSF sponsored a three-day workshop that brought together scientists from around the world to discuss the transformative potential of a fiber optic cable to Antarctica. Its potential impact on research, education and the well-being of those who spend their most precious currency on McMurdo Station – time – has also been discussed.
In October, NSF released a report detailing key points, potential routes, and ways to use fiber optic cable to collect additional scientific data.
Why Antarctica needs a network?
Researchers could live stream daily operations instead of ripping them to external recorders. There also remains the question of improving weather forecasting, real-time analysis of satellite images, or the development of cyber security.
Moreover, research is also limited by the number of people who can stay on the continent, which thanks to the fast and efficient may not be a problem, because more people could then explore it.
In addition to the scientific possibilities, the Internet would provide an important source for researchers to connect with their families, and there would be a greater opportunity to popularize Cold Valley research to a wider audience.
What else but the internet?
In addition to the bandwidth and possibilities that come with data transmission, the cable itself as a physical structure can also be a source of data. The fibers in the cable could be used to collect data for seismologists. This technique is called distributed acoustic detection. It is supposed to help measure pressure and temperature on the continent, which can help understand the current climate change.
At this point we are working on route selection and calculating the final cost of the project, which will be the main axis of decision-making in terms of its continuation.
Will there finally be Internet in Antarctica?? Someday for sure, but whether it will be the realization of NSF or Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos we will find out in the distant future.