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ES&S funded for innovative role in bringing broadband to Antarctica

ES&S is pleased to announce that it will be part of a consortium to provide communications to  Antarctica. This exciting project - The Antarctic Broadband, Definition and Capability Development Project - is funded by the Australian Space Research Program, and aims to provide high speed communications to one of the remotest parts of the earth.

Being at the poles of the earth, Antarctica is out of range of the geostationary satellites which provide the traditional telephone, TV and internet coverage to most of the earth. Other forms of communications, such as radio links or fibre optic cables, are not technically feasible or prohibitively expensive because of the remoteness of Antarctica. This new project will take advantage of recent developments in satellite and groundstation technology to allow these parts of the earth to communicate with the rest of the world.

When completed, the project will consist of small satellites in highly eccentric orbits (called Molniya orbits) which fly high over the south pole. The dynamics of these special orbits enable the satellite to appear to be moving very slowly over the poles for considerable periods of time, enabling a much greater period of communications contact than is currently available.

Two new technologies will be developed during the project - small satellites technology, and groundstation development. ES&S, which has been designing and manufacturing groundstations for 20 years, will leverage its existing expertise to develop a groundstation specifically designed to track these Molniya satellites, and enable the downlink and uplink channels. ES&S will also utilize its considerable experience in installing groundstations in Antarctica, having already installed four groundstations at Australian and Chinese bases.

Other members of the consortium include Aerospace Research Pty Ltd (project lead), the Australian National University, EM Solutions Pty Ltd, Joseph Mark Pty Ltd, The Tauri Group LLC, and the University of Toronto. The funding is part of the first round of the new $40 million Australian Space Research Program, part of the Australian Government’s $1.1 billion Super Science Initiative, supporting projects that build on Australia’s research strengths.

The importance of Antarctica will increase as the effects of Climate Change are often first seen at the freezing poles of the earth. This new project will provide vital communications to this unique part of our world.

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