Scientists in Antarctica Have Access to Starlink Now. It’s Available on 7 Continents

SpaceX’s Starlink service is now available in Antarctica, according to a tweet from the National Science Foundation on the morning of September 14, stating, “NSF-supported USAP scientists in #Antarctica are over the moon! Starlink is testing polar service with a newly deployed user terminal at McMurdo Station. Increasing bandwidth and connectivity for service support.” SpaceX replied with a quote tweet saying, “Starlink is now available on all seven continents! In such a remote location like Antarctica, this capability is enabled by Starlink’s space laser network.”

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This is What a Robotic Explorer Might See When it Reaches Europa’s Oceans

Mounds of snow-like ice under an ice shelf. ©Helen Glazer, 2015 from the project Walking in Antarctica.

For decades, evidence has been mounting that beneath the icy crust of Jupiter’s moon Europa, a vast ocean exists that could possibly host microbial life. As scientists prepare to send the Europa Clipper mission to orbit the Jupiter system, they are trying to learn more about the subsurface ocean and the ice that encompasses the moon.

One way to study Europa is to look at similar environments here on Earth. Scientists say that conditions found under Earth’s Antarctic ice shelf provides an analog to Europa’s subsurface ocean and can help them determine how the moon’s ice shell accretes and grows.

A new study published in the journal Astrobiology looked at a unique phenomenon in the Antarctic ocean called underwater snow. This is where ice floats upwards onto the bottom of the ice shelf and attaches in fluffy-looking mounds. This helps to replenish the ice shelf. The study infers that the same phenomenon is likely true for Jupiter’s moon, and may play a role in building and replenishing its exterior ice shell.

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Antarctica Lost an Ice Shelf, but Gained an Island

The eastern coast of Antarctica has lost most of the Glenzer and Conger ice shelves, as seen in these satellite images taken between November 15, 1989 - January 9, 2022. Credit: NASA GSFC/UMBC JCET.

Collapsing ice shelves on the eastern coast of Antarctica has revealed something never seen before: a landform that might be an island. But this is not the first newly revealed island off the Antarctic coast. A series of islands have appeared as the ice shelves along the continent’s coastline has disintegrated over the past few years.

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Simulation Predicts Where to Find 300,000 Meteorites Hidden in Antarctica

Collecting meteorites in Antarctica. Image courtesy of Delft University of Technology.

Although meteorites are known to fall all over the world, the environment and unique processes in Antarctica make them somewhat easier to find on the pristine, snowy landscape. Still, collecting meteorites in Antarctica is physically grueling and hazardous work.

But what if there was a “treasure map” which showed the most probable places to find meteorites in Antarctica, directing researchers where to look?

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100-meter Asteroid Created a Strange Impact Event in Antarctica 430,000 Years Ago

Mocked up illustration of touchdown impact on Antarctica. Credit: Mark A. Garlick.

The effects of ancient asteroid impacts on Earth are still evident from the variety of impact craters across our planet. And from the Chelyabinsk event back in 2013, where an asteroid exploded in the air above a Russian town, we know how devastating an “airburst” event can be.

Now, researchers in Antarctica have discovered evidence of a strange intermediate-type event – a combination of an impact and an airburst. The event was so devastating, its effects are still apparent even though it took place 430,000 years ago.

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Another Big Iceberg Just Broke off from Antarctica

The wing of NASA's DC-8 cuts across the frozen expanse of the Brunt Ice Shelf, with its 100-foot-high cliff face. Credit: Michael Studinger/NASA.

Glaciologists have been closely monitoring ice shelves in Antarctica for signs of cracks and chasms that indicate breakups. The loss of ice around the Earth’s polar regions is one of many consequences of climate change, which is leading to rising ocean levels and various feedback mechanisms. Recently, the ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite witnessed a giant iceberg breaking off from Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf on February 26th.

The Copernicus Sentinel mission consists of two polar-orbiting satellites that rely on C-band synthetic aperture radar imaging to conduct Earth observations in all weather conditions. In recent years, it has been monitoring the Brunt Ice Shelf for signs of cracks and chasms. According to the images it recently captured, an iceberg larger than New York City broke free and began floating out to sea.

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It Looks Like Iceberg A-68A is Coming Apart

A-68 iceberg positions as seen by Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission on January 30 2021. Image Credit: ESA

Iceberg A-68A, the massive frigid behemoth posing a threat to South Georgia Island, might be breaking into pieces. Satellite images from the European Space Agency showed large cracks forming in the iceberg.

Now it appears to breaking apart.

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Iceberg A-68A is Turning. Will it Miss South Georgia Island After All?

The iceberg A-68A floating in open waters about 1050 km from its birthplace. It's been floating for three years. Image Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2020), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

A massive iceberg named A-68A is on a long journey through the seas near Antarctica. Though largely empty, those waters do host some islands, most notably South Georgia Island. In recent weeks satellite images showed the iceberg heading right for South Georgia.

That upcoming collision could have devastating consequences for wildlife that congregates on the island. But now, it looks like the collision might not happen.

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An Iceberg the Size of South Georgia Island is on a Collision Course with… South Georgia Island

An iceberg the size of South Georgia Island is on a collision course with... South Georgia Island. Image Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2017–20), processed by ESA; Antarctic Iceberg Tracking Database

Back in July 2017, satellites watched as an enormous iceberg broke free from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. The trillion-ton behemoth has been drifting for over three years now. While it stayed close to its parent ice shelf for the first couple of years, it’s now heading directly for a collision with South Georgia Island.

It could be a slow-motion collision, but a collision nonetheless. If it does collide with the island and its shallow sea-floor, it won’t be the first iceberg to do so. And if the first one was any indication, wildlife could suffer.

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Antarctica Is the Best Place On Earth for a Telescope, Is Also the Hardest Place to Put a Telescope

Image of a telescope at Dome Argus, one of the coldest places on Earth. Credit: Zhaohui Shang

Twinkling stars might make for spectacular viewing on a hot summer’s night, but they are an absolute nightmare to astronomers. That twinkling is caused by disturbances in the Earth’s atmosphere, and can wreak havoc on brightness readings, a key tool for astronomers everywhere.  Those readings are used for everything from understanding galaxy formation to the detection of exoplanets.

Astronomers now have a new potential location to try to avoid the twinkling.  Only one problem though: it’s really cold, especially this time of year.  A team of astronomers from Canada, China, and Australia have identified a part of Antarctica as the ideal place to put observational telescopes.  Now the challenge becomes how to actually build one there.

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