Penguins on ice perform at research station.
Winter temperatures of down to -65°C, raging storms with wind speeds of more than 250 km/h and millions of penguins – this is Antarctica. This is where O’Higgins, the German Antarctic Receiving Station, is located. It was founded in 1991 by the German Aerospace Centre and the German Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy to collect data from geographical satellites and stars.
No scientist can be forced to permanently work under these conditions. However, since the clouds and the weather conditions as well as the telescope’s position need to be monitored permanently, the researchers rely on video technology for digital image recording. But where to find a video camera that operates reliably under such conditions? Mobotix cameras monitor the radio telescope to make sure that it continues to function properly – and these cameras are now in their tenth year.
It all started with the M1 model, and now four M12 cameras and one M10 camera are in use. No problems have been recorded so far – even under the world’s most extreme weather conditions. The advantage of the Mobotix solution: The cameras work without heating or ventilation and consume only three to four watts of electricity. The decentralised processing and storage also reduce the required bandwidth to a minimum and significantly cut system costs.
An icy image
For the German Antarctic Receiving Station, it is extremely important to ensure that the radio telescope is working properly. The station is regularly equipped with the newest camera models. This way, the cameras can continue to work perfectly in spite of the extreme weather conditions. “Since the Mobotix camera has been installed, we have permanent first class eye contact with the radio telescope and, thus, can monitor its position continuously,” reports Reiner Wojdziak.
In mid-summer, the inland temperatures at the South Pole reach about -25°C and in winter, the temperature is around -65°C. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica was -89.2°C, as measured at the Wostok Station. The Antarctic coast is slightly warmer: -20°C to -30°C in winter and up to 0°C in summer. These extreme temperatures, combined with the icy wind, present enormous challenges for people and technology.
The radio telescope is not the only thing the camera monitors. Penguins regularly come waddling in front of the antenna as well. They are welcome guests for the scientists and even have their own Internet fan community (see: http://www.martingrund.de/pinguine/index.htm and http://ivs.bkg.bund.de/vlbi/ohiggins/).
For more information contact IAC, +27 (0)12 657 3600, , www.iaconline.co.za
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