Britain's latest Antarctic research station is brand-new and learning to crawl.
Unless you're a polar bear, the odds that you'll make it down to the South Pole to check it out are pretty slim, so we tracked some photos. The new modular Haley VI looks like something out of "2001: A Space Odyssey." It's made up of pods that connect like cars in a freight train. But there are no wheels. Instead, the pods are supported above the snow by hydraulic stilts. At the bottom of the stilts are giant steel skis, which make it easier for the stations to be relocated.
That's key. The architect, Hugh Broughton, explained how it works to TreeHugger.com.
The hydraulic legs allow the station to mechanically 'climb' up out of the snow every year to avoid being buried. And as the ice shelf moves out towards the ocean, the modules can be lowered onto the skis and towed by bulldozers to a new safer location further inland. The new Halley VI can therefore continue to respond to the changing needs of Antarctic science for many more years than its projected design life.
The station is made up of seven modules and offers everything you might expect: labs, bedrooms, a kitchen, and areas where the scientists can simply hang out and talk about the weather. It also has a hydroponic salad garden and a climbing wall to play on. The station cost around £25.8 million ($40.8 million) to build.
In a press release, Professor Duncan Wingham, chief executive of the Natural Environment Research Council said, "Halley VI is the latest NERC-supported Antarctic research station that demonstrates NERC's long-term commitment to Antarctica. We look forward to the excellent science that is made possible by Halley's unique location on the Earth's largest ice cap."
Data from the station's predecessor, Halley V, helped scientists discover the ozone hole in 1985.