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Angela Posada-Swafford , , , ,

A New Chapter in the History of Polar Communications

Yesterday we wrote a new chapter in polar communications: the first-ever live wireless internet video conference from Torgersen island, at the Palmer Archipelago, in Antarctica, and the first ever involving 5 parties simultaneously from Palmer Station. It was an outreach effort I came up with several months ago together with the Maloka Science Museum in Bogota, Colombia (www.maloka.org). Thanks to the use of the free “ooVoo” videoconferencing software, we transmitted live to science museums in Colombia, Mexico and Chile, where some 400 people, child and adult, saw and heard us and asked questions. Others were able to follow it online.

The Palmer Station IT people, including Jeff Otten and Ken Kloppenborg, were very gracious about the whole thing. They pointed an antenna from the station to Torgersen, went out there to test the system, and then went back again in a heavy snowfall for the actual broadcast, which lasted over an hour. Blog-BiologaMaggieWaldronyAngelaVideoconferenciaTorgersonIsland_Web.jpg

Biologist Maggie Waldron (in the photo, wirh me) was at my side, helping answer some of the kids’ questions, with one of the penguin colonies in the background. This was a hit with the children hundreds of miles away, as we had a curious penguin that kept coming to see us, to the children’s delight. The laptop was placed inside a cardboard box with a fleece over the keyboard. This low-tech approach protected the laptop while allowing me to see the eager faces in the audiences at the science museums.

It was very rewarding for me because I know we touched a few minds with the issues of Antarctica. Can’t think of a better way to contribute to the issue of global warming.