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Eutelsat, British Antarctic Survey Bring LEO Satellite Services to the South Pole

By Mark Holmes | April 9, 2024

Photo by Eutelsat OneWeb

Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) services are now available in Antarctica, thanks to a partnership between Eutelsat and British Antarctic Survey (BAS), a world-leading center for polar science and polar operations. The technology will aim to match the high data use needs of the scientific activities at the research outposts in Antarctica, along with the connectivity needs of the staff based at the stations. Eutelsat announced the partnership, April 9.

Launched in January 2024, the service provides connectivity to the BAS operated Rothera Research Station in Antarctica. Communications and Internet connectivity in Antarctica is currently limited to solutions offering at most 1-5 Mbps in both uplink and downlink, despite the significant number of crucial scientific research outposts in the region. Eutelsat OneWeb’s services will deliver significantly increased reliability and data rates up to 120 Mbps.

In order to deliver services to the Antarctic region, Eutelsat OneWeb developed a proprietary system named TALARIA after the Latin word used to describe the ‘winged sandals’ of Mercury, God of communication. The system includes a ground station in Chile along with a user terminal installed in Rothera Research Station 1,000 miles away.

“We’re excited to see how using Eutelsat OneWeb will change the connectivity for living and working at Rothera Research Station. Knowing we have such an increase in bandwidth is a gamechanger for our communications connectivity, allowing transfer of big data files and giving us the opportunity to do live broadcast interviews from one of the remotest places on Earth. This has the potential to change the way we work and the type of science we can carry out,” Julius Rix, Head of Engineering at British Antarctic Survey, said, in a statement.