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.”
This is an incredible milestone not only for SpaceX and the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, but for the whole of humanity, as the ability to provide satellite internet to the south pole is another indication that it can be provided anywhere in the world.
In the case of the McMurdo Station, which can house up to 1,000 personnel, Starlink will provide far better internet service to assist in scientific research performed at the bottom of the world, which has been a paltry 17 Mbps for everyone at the base. Since the Starlink terminals can handle 50-200 Mbps, this means the outbound flow of scientific data will greatly assist in the sharing of scientific knowledge to the rest of the world.
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The goal of SpaceX’s Starlink is to provide worldwide internet with its constellation of satellites in orbit around the Earth, which currently numbers around 3,000 functioning satellites with SpaceX’s most recent launch of 52 on September 24. The private space company was given permission by the US Federal Communications Commission to launch 12,000 satellites into orbit, so SpaceX has a while until it reaches this goal.
While Starlink has garnered criticism for allegedly ruining the night sky with its large number of satellites currently in orbit, this hasn’t stopped the largest private space company in the world from shouldering forth, as noted by this most recent introduction of satellite internet to Antarctica.
How will satellite internet affect scientific research in Antarctica, and where will this incredible technology next become available in the world? Only time will tell, and this is why we science!
As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!
Featured Image: McMurdo Station in Antarctica with a flat-looking Starlink terminal located to the right of the roof’s peak. (Credit: National Science Foundation)