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What It's Like To Live And Work On An Antarctic Research Base

Updated December 3, 2019 42.7k views14 items

Antarctica has been a captivating subject for scientists since the continent was discovered in the early 1800s. Despite Antarctica's freezing temperatures, disorienting sunlight hours, and complete isolation from the rest of humanity, researchers continue to flock to the South Pole for answers. But what do scientists study in Antarctica?

Scientists study weather, wildlife, and geology on the southernmost continent. For these brave researchers, living and working in Antarctica has its obvious appeals. But there are some difficult parts about living in the literal Antarctic tundra, and none of it involves hunting down a shape-shifting creature picking off your crew one by one with a blowtorch. 

An Antarctic research base is like home to scientists, but just like in The Thing, living in Antarctica can make you feel like you're losing it. 

  • In Non-Snowy Areas, You Might Have To Separate Your No. 1 From Your No. 2 - And Then Ship It Away

    Researchers on larger bases have running water, including toilets. Some of the smaller bases and field research sites aren't as fortunate when it comes to modern plumbing.

    Some stations require people to separate their solid and liquid wastes - no easy feat. Some facilities have separate "toilet" areas for urine and poop. The separated waste is sent abroad, typically to the United States, Australia, or New Zealand, which is closest to the southernmost continent. Some waste is treated, then dumped in the ocean.

    One final way researchers eliminate waste in Antarctica is with an incinolet toilet, AKA a "rocket toilet." This contraption incinerates the waste.

  • You Don’t Get Much - If Any - Alone Time

    Close quarters. Limited outside access. Little to no time spent on personal communication devices. If you are a scientist in Antarctica, you better hope you get along with your crewmates - because they are all you will see for the foreseeable future. 

    Even scientists or researchers who have downtime and want to relax often have to do it in the vicinity of others. Sleeping quarters are built to fit two to three people, so unless someone has the opposite shift from their bunkmates, they aren't getting a lot of alone time, save for the quick showers.