McMurdo – new data center not operational until 2023 | Polarjournal
This is what the new data center will look like after completion (Photo: USAP, Ferraro Choi)

Covid-19 delays an 11,000-square-meter facility at the US Antarctic station McMurdo. Completion was scheduled for 2020. According to the latest calculations, the data center is now scheduled to go online in 2023. The McMurdo Station research and logistics base is located on Ross Island, about 3,860 km south of Christchurch and 1,360 km from the South Pole.

The new Information Technology and Communications facility was first announced in 2018. The facility has an area of 11,000 square meters and extends over two floors. (Photo: USAP, Ferraro Choi)

Work on the building, known as ITC Prime on the NSF site, began around February 2019 and was expected to span two southern summers and originally be completed by the end of 2020. Due to Covid- 19, the completion date has now been pushed back to 2023.

“However, the completion of the new McMurdo data center was impacted by the global Covid-19 pandemic,” Mike England, media relations officer for the National Science Foundation, told news platform Data Center Dynamics. “Assuming Covid’s continued decline, NSF expects to complete construction and commission of the data center by the end of 2023.”

McMurdo station is excellently connected to the rest of the world via various satellites and antennas. (Photo: NSF)

The new facility is being developed to complement the existing Science Support Center. The extension consists of two floors, with the lower floor housing electrical power equipment, backup UPS systems and the telecommunications entrance and connection to internal cable distribution.

The second floor is the data center floor for the NSF Operational Data Center, McMurdo Station, and some areas for the combined NASA Near Earth Networks, as well as for the NOAA Joint Polar Satellite.

When completed, the new IT&C facility will benefit not only Antarctic research conducted by the NSF-administered United States Antarctic Program (USAP), but also NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA, which also support Antarctic research.

The project is a first step toward a planned overall remodel of McMurdo Station.

McMurdo Station is the largest research station in Antarctica and is operated by the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) of the US government. The year-round facility was built in 1955/56 on Ross Island on the coast of McMurdo Sound for the International Geophysical Year and now consists of more than 85 buildings. In winter, the station accommodates about 250 people, which is increased to about 1100 people in summer. (Photo: Webcam, 11/24/2021)

Under a presidential mandate from the 1980s, NSF is responsible for the operation and maintenance of McMurdo and the nation’s two other year-round Antarctic research stations. Through USAP, NSF also coordinates and supports all U.S. Antarctic research, including projects supported by other federal agencies.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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