The images conjured up when you think of Austin, Texas, seldom include penguins and glaciers, but that’s precisely what’s on the mind of engineer Ronald Ross of Austin-based Polar66.
Ross creates complex weather stations that have dotted the moonscapes of Antarctica for well over a decade now. These stations not only measure the weather and collect other scientific data, but also come equipped with cameras that monitor everything from glacier movement to penguin colonies. Given the time and expense involved in getting the stations set up in Antarctica, reliability is key.
“The equipment needs to work 24/7/365 […] many of the scientists want to collect a continuous set of data. What that means is whenever a problem or exception is encountered the system needs to be able to recover itself without anyone being around because once we deploy we may leave within a day or so and may not return ever,” says Ross.
ARL has been proud to support Polar66’s work, namely through supplementing the company’s temperature testing capabilities with our own set of environmental chambers. As is the case with many electronics, individual parts may be rated to withstand the rigors of Antarctic environments, but it’s important to test various subassemblies to make sure the system as a whole will function properly when it matters most.
As there’s no shortage of things to learn from the farthest reaches of our planet, Ronald’s work will continue and ARL will be right beside him – albeit from a much warmer location.