ALE pioneers antenna installation in Antarctica to provide best-in-class meteorological capabilities and collect previously unobtainable satellite data.

29 January 2024, Salt Lake City, Utah – Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) today announced the installation of a new satellite, the first high precision antenna positioner to be installed in the interior of West Antarctica. This unit, the 2.4AEBP-2.4m Elevation-Over-Azimuth Antenna Positioner, was developed by Orbital Systems in Irving, Texas and was installed by ALE staff at ALE’s Union Glacier Camp in Antarctica during the 2023-2024 season.

“The capability of this antenna is more sophisticated than anything else in this region of Antarctica, and will have a profound impact on ALE’s ability to deliver safe and efficient expedition logistics,” said Tim Hewette, Field Operations Manager at ALE.

The antenna’s primary use will be to download a wide range of X-band and below satellite weather imagery to support logistics for seasonal operations in the interior of West Antarctica. Fog, low clouds, and other weather systems can significantly jeopardize flight safety and landing aircraft on remote ice caps or glaciers. X-band or Super High Frequency (SHF) spectrum signals are good at penetrating atmospheric rain, snow or ice. Data provided by the antenna will help ALE’s meteorologists improve the accuracy of weather forecasts, increasing the safety and reliability of ALE’s logistical services provided to guests, expeditions and National Antarctic Programs.

“The new system will allow us to get satellite imagery from 8 to 12 polar orbiting satellites. This will provide us with constant new images in order to re-evaluate the weather situation and to make quicker and more accurate decisions,” said Marc De Keyser, meteorologist at ALE.

ALE has collaborated with Liam Gumley of Earth Observing Systems, LLC to help bridge the gap between the antenna’s technical interface and the specific needs of ALE’s meteorologists.

“[The antenna] receives the data and writes it onto disk as a sequence of zeros and ones,” said Gumley. “It’s not an image. It’s nothing that you can look at and interpret. It needs further software processing, to turn it into an image that a human can recognize. That’s where I come in.”

ALE’s installation of the antenna on Union Glacier is the first of its kind ever attempted. The antenna spans 7ft 10.5 in (2.4m) and weighs approximately 1,245lb (565kg). To combat the unorthodox ground conditions, ALE’s mechanical services team had to design and manufacture an in-house support platform.

The antenna will also collect previously unavailable meteorological data. ALE is currently developing ways to donate this additional data and imagery to relevant scientific communities. For example, to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), whose mission is to support international cooperation in the delivery and use of high-quality, authoritative weather, climate, hydrological and related environmental services to improve the well-being of all.

“This was a big project that required cooperation from multiple teams, both from within ALE and outside organizations” said David Rootes, ALE Partner. “We’re proud of how our mechanical services, meteorologists, and communications teams, and many others worked together to make this installation a success. ALE is proud to pioneer this achievement and continue to be a leading expert in safe and sustainable tourism in Antarctica.”


About ALE

With more than 35 years of experience, ALE is the premier provider of land-based Antarctic experiences and logistical services. From its blue-ice runway and base camp at Union Glacier, guests can venture to the summit of Mount Vinson, fly to the South Pole, journey to an emperor penguin colony, or attempt an expedition in the spirit of early explorers. ALE also offers a full range of logistical services to support National Antarctic Programs and deep-field scientific research.

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