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Farewell To the South Pole Dome

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the i-wanna-live-in-a-dome dept.

The Military 77

Julie188 writes "After more than three decades of service to researchers and staff stationed at the bottom of the world, the dome at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was deconstructed this austral summer. Designed and constructed by the Seabees — the construction battalions of the US Navy — in the early 1970s, the dome's geodesic design provided a unique solution to the challenges posed to engineers trying to build structures at the South Pole. The dome is being returned to southern California where it will be held in storage. It could possibly be trotted out as an exhibit in a new US Navy Seabees museum."

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77 comments

Bad idea. (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427688)


Great, how do they know that in the past 28 years The Thing hasn't managed to figure out how to assimilate non-living matter and is now the dome? Just sitting there, waiting in the cold.
I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

How's that for tying two classics together?

Re:Bad idea. (-1, Offtopic)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427772)

Now try 8. If you do a good job, It'll be instantly modded +5 something.

Re:Bad idea. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31428344)

No kidding. I regret that I had only five moderator points to mark the lame jokes in this discussion either "Redundant" or "Offtopic".

It might be cute except that they're repetitive, they're not really funny, and when most posts are lame jokes that have little or nothing to do with the actual topic, it produces an incredibly low signal-to-noise ratio. I might even stop posting racial jokes if people quit doing this. But if people are going to do this, and the signal-to-noise ratio is all shot to hell anyway, might as well use the N-word and make the politically correct pantywaists wet their beds. Which they do like clockwork because "don't feed the trolls" has no meaning for them.

Re:Bad idea. (-1, Offtopic)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427774)

It's not the thing, it's John Wayne:

John Wayne's not dead - he's frozen! And when we find a cure for cancer, we're gonna thaw out the Duke and he's gonna be pretty pissed off. You know why? You ever taken a cold shower? Well, multiply that by 15 million times. That's how pissed off the Duke's gonna be.

Re:Bad idea. (1)

charleste (537078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428024)

Ahhh, the Classic Songs of Dennis Leary.

Re:Bad idea. (2, Funny)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428268)

Whale skin hubcaps for the win!

Re:Bad idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31428408)

Whale skin hubcaps for the win!

I believe it was baby seal skin hubcaps, and we won't even talk about where that cheeseburger has been...

Re:Bad idea. (-1, Offtopic)

odinsgrudge (945399) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428790)

Too bad Dennis Leary had to rip-off Bill Hicks to get famous. He was the Carlos Mencia of the early '90s, with the exception that he got away with it.

Re:Bad idea. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31429130)

Too bad Dennis Leary had to rip-off Bill Hicks to get famous. He was the Carlos Mencia of the early '90s, with the exception that he got away with it.

He was a loudmouth Mexican who's not really funny and made his career by appealing to the fastest-growing minority in the USA?

Re:Bad idea. (0, Offtopic)

toadlife (301863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31430152)

He was a loudmouth Mexican

And one of his funniest bits was about people like you who assume all brownish people must be Mexican.

Re:Bad idea. (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427976)

They might also be Krynoids. Very dangerous, and they always travel in pairs.

Re:Bad idea. (2, Funny)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428450)

Crap! I thought it was "travel in pears"... I have been avoiding the produce section of the store for no reason... though they still might be hiding in the live plant and fresh flowers area.... hmmm...

Perhaps they could make some money off it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31427750)

Lease it to Steve Ballmer to be used as a hat to cover that giant head of his.

But what about the Others? And Jacob? And Smokie?! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31427764)

Oh wait, wrong 1970s scientific research group.

Dang Air Force cutbacks. (5, Funny)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427766)

Guess they are also getting rid of the F-302s at McMurdo. Homeworld security must not be important to the current administration.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31428434)

Hey, this administration dismantled LORAN-C, the backup system in case of GPS satellite spoofing or jamming.....I expect no better from them. http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/4343983.html

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31428612)

Whaaa! The government spends too much money. It needs to cut funding.

Whaaa! The government cut the program which I liked, or which exists in my congressional district.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (1)

NateTech (50881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31437874)

Actually, for a backup system, LORAN-C was cheap. Estimated price to operate it for a decade was like $22 million. In the government of "a trillion here, a trillion there", $22 million is pocket change.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (5, Informative)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428702)

Hey, this administration dismantled LORAN-C, the backup system in case of GPS satellite spoofing or jamming.....

President Obama is influential, but he isn't capable of time travel. President Bush scheduled the dismantling, President Obama continued that recommendation. Both the Coast Guard and the DHS said they didn't need LORAN-C, so why maintain it? It smells like pork.

This dismantling was already scheduled by the previous administration, according to the FA [popularmechanics.com].


The Department of Homeland Security last year started a painful upgrade to LORAN-C, adding modern electronics and solid-state transmitters, despite the fact that in 2008 President George W. Bush signed a law that scheduled the system's dissolution.

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/Loran/default.htm [uscg.gov]

The DHS and Coast Guard both said they didn't need LORAN-C. From http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/Loran/default.htm [uscg.gov] :

The Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010 allowed for termination of the LORAN-C signal on January 4, 2010, after certification from the Commandant of the Coast Guard that it was not needed for maritime navigation and from the Secretary of DHS that it is not needed as a backup for GPS.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31429464)

Hey, this administration dismantled LORAN-C, the backup system in case of GPS satellite spoofing or jamming.....

President Obama is influential, but he isn't capable of time travel. President Bush scheduled the dismantling, President Obama continued that recommendation. Both the Coast Guard and the DHS said they didn't need LORAN-C, so why maintain it? It smells like pork.

Of course, because this is the DHS, and they never make dumb decisions.

Why maintain it? As redundancy against $100 GPS jammers:

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/02/car-thieves-use-gps-jammers-to-make-a-clean-getaway/

LORAN is fairly cheap for what it provides, and most of the expense is a sunk cost, so it's not that expensive to just keep running.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31430354)

Dont bring up facts when dealing with right-wingers - it only confuses them and they start lashing out in frustration.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#31431958)

Then both the Bush and Obama administrations are guilty of stupidity on this one. Loran was relatively cheap, and what do you do if ASAT's from a hostile power start taking out GPS satellites? You're basically back to pre-1940's navigation methods. Hope your pilots are up on their starlight navigation skills. Hope your mariners haven't tossed their sextants.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31432550)

You mean without GPS satellites we won't have RADAR?

This is what I love about militaristic people. You always assume we're under imminent threat. You have more chances of being hit by a falling GPS satellite than someone taking one out.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (1)

NateTech (50881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31437992)

RADAR is not used for navigation. It's used for surveillance.

Aircraft are slowly becoming 100% dependent on GPS (unless they're large enough to have inertial navigation systems on board). The FAA has been slowly but surely decommissioning ground-based navigation transmitters of other types. (Example, the airport down the road just decommissioned its ILS Middle Marker beacon, and it's not coming back. The information it provided pilots of older aircraft without Instrument-rated GPS on board, is now gone forever. Next, the ILS itself will go away.)

In term of GPS needing a backup, instead of worrying about the military scenarios, think instead: "Large solar flare." Knock down just a few birds and accuracy-required things like aircraft instrument approaches become something you can only do every X minutes safely, because there aren't enough satellites in "view". You get a RAIM alert and go head for the holding pattern to wait, burning fuel... if you have it.

LORAN-C was a cheap and easy way to have a ground-based wide-area backup to GPS. Now it's gone, and that's wickedly short-sighted.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (0, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31432734)

The DHS and Coast Guard both said they didn't need LORAN-C

They still haven't identified the backup for GPS, though. The best reason to do away with it that I can think of, though, is that it was designed for civilian use and yet practically no civilians use it. Consequently almost nobody has a receiver.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31433146)

Here's an article that describes another reason for the cuts. There does seem to be alot of back and forth regarding this system.

http://www.insidegnss.com/node/1806 [insidegnss.com]

Although the Federal Register notice also indicates that a decision has not been made on the need for a GPS backup, the announcement apparently brings to a close a seemingly interminable process of preserving and upgrading the terrestrial radionavigation system to provide an enhanced Loran (eLoran) capability that could serve as a multimodal backup to failures or interference to the Global Positioning System.

That process spanned several years, two administrations, and the expenditure of $160 million over the last 10 years to partially modernize a network of Loran stations that now will be phased out. It also flies in the face of an independent assessment team’s unanimous recommendation to establish eLoran as a GPS backup, as well as the efforts of navigation counterparts in other nations, notably the United Kingdom, to implement eLoran.

Re:Dang Air Force cutbacks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31428574)

I heard they were selling off the original stargate too...

So the chair is no longer there. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31427782)

So the chair is no longer there.

Ice Worms! (-1, Offtopic)

MrTripps (1306469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427822)

Got to watch out for ice worms too. They crawl in your ear and make your CRAZY! (X-Files S01E08)

Re:Ice Worms! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31427932)

Crazy? I was crazy once. They put me in a home. I died there. Then the worms came. Worms? I hate worms! Worms make me crazy. Crazy? I was crazy once....

Re:Ice Worms! (1)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428142)

Wrong pole chief, that episode was in Alaska which is closer to the North Pole than the South pole mentioned in the story.

Nice try to fit in a pop culture reference though.

Pictures and more info (4, Informative)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427840)

For anyone interested here [nsf.gov] is the link on the NSF page showing the old site and the new facility. Pretty cool (pardon the pun).

Re:Pictures and more info (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31427904)

Not Safe For Government?!? Isn't that an oxymoron?

Re:Pictures and more info (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428558)

For anyone interested here [nsf.gov] is the link on the NSF page showing the old site and the new facility.

I don't know about you but I really think they should change their URL to nsfw.gov

no great justice (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31427852)

how will we ever find the second stargate?

Re:no great justice (1)

LinuxFreakus (613194) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427876)

Don't worry, I'm sure the shiny new $150 million replacement facility will be able to keep up the search.

Deconstructed? (4, Funny)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427940)

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

"Dismantled" would be a better choice.

Of course I may be wrong. Perhaps the Seabees really have been standing around considering the the dome's true meaning and searching for inconsistencies in its design.

Re:Deconstructed? (1)

quantumplacet (1195335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428048)

Yes, you may be wrong.

Deconstruct:
tr.v. deconstructed, deconstructing, deconstructs

      1. To break down into components; dismantle.

Re:Better? (1, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428184)

"Dismantled" would be a better choice.

I think "Superior" would be a superior choice.

It's not hard to suggest Synonyms and sound pompous.

Re:Deconstructed? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428512)

Why are they removing it? It seems odd that they would remove one of the few structures on the continent.

Re:Deconstructed? (3, Informative)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428706)

They have a large, new building and don't need this one. It's too small and requires a lot of maintenance. The international treaty governing Antarctica requires that unused buildings be removed and the site returned to as close to the original state as possible. No danger of it turning into a penguin slum this far from the coast, but if the Shoggoths move in, it will really mess up the neighborhood.

Re:Deconstructed? Reason from TFA (1)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428898)

From the fine article:

The dome could no longer accommodate the demands of research activities taking place there, however, and each year the structure sunk deeper into the ice it was built on. Blowing snow that collected on top of it had to be removed and hauled away, burning up precious fuel and crew time during the short austral summer. The international treaty that governs human activities in Antarctica requires that buildings and equipment no longer in use be removed and the site remediated whenever possible, necessitating the dome's deconstruction and removal.

I can understand the last two points (snow covering it, and no littering in Antarctica), but did the structure stay there for 30 years and only now the sinking into the snow becomes a problem? Given the panels are so light, they could have dis- and reassembled them when needed. Maybe made up to soften the accountants sharp pencil of "too expensive!"

Re:Deconstructed? Reason from TFA (2, Informative)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31429634)

Snow covering it is sinking into the snow. Same effect. Snow covers it each year but never melts. The next year, more snow covers it.

Meanwhile, the entire glacier is slowly squirting out at all sides towards the sea. The net effect is a glacier that's not necessarily getting any thicker, but items sitting on top of it effectively "sink" in the additional snowfall as any given layer moves down and out to the sea.

The new station can be jacked up on hydraulics up to two stories "higher" than its current position. As the layer its supports are buried in sinks, the building can be kept level.

Re:Deconstructed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31428524)

Let the engineers handle this one, fancy lad.

Re:Deconstructed? (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31430314)

>Perhaps the Seabees really have been standing around considering the the dome's true meaning and searching for inconsistencies in its design.

No, no. Its not the design, man, its like the "idea" that "man" can "own" property and "things" in the south pole.

*hits bong*

Yeah.... its like the penguins are the indians and we are General Custer.

*hits bong*

Err...what were we talking about? Custard? Yeah, I'd like some custard.

Sea bees? Is there a toolkit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31428070)

Wait, the Sea-bees? You don't suppose there's an old set of mechanic's tools left behind in there, do yah? I really to catch this boat tomorrow, and all I have is this weird book about the "means of production" which won't tell me squat about producin' some tools!

nopics with noscript (4, Informative)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428198)

It would be awfully nice if submitters would include links to sites with pictures where you don't have enable 50 scripts just to see a jpeg. For example, linking to wikipedia is a no brainer that would save a million keystrokes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amundsen-Scott_South_Pole_Station [wikipedia.org]

Global Warming Sparks South Pole Evacuation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31428654)

Lets see if we can sensationalize this one a bit, shall we?

Re:Global Warming Sparks South Pole Evacuation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31431156)

Good Lord...

You are saying that global warming melted the ice around the station so much that it started to sink?

we MUST do something about this now. If we don't then the next thing we know someone will plant a tree at the North Pole...

Let me call some people... we'll get to the bottom of this...

The new building is really nice (2, Funny)

frog_strat (852055) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428800)

I live down the street, and the new building is much nicer. Parking is a pain, though.

Re:The new building is really nice (1)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31429780)

The new building is quite nice.

To be more accurate, though, underground (well, under-ice) parking is convenient next door in the Logistics and Maintenance Arches, it's just that it's a pain going up and down all those stairs to get from the subsurface arch to the elevated station.

The safety devices on the elevator don't work in those temperatures, so it can be used for supplies but not for people.

And here you thought you'd run off a one-liner and be done. Hah!

And Here is Why (5, Informative)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428810)

Because TFS couldn't be bothered to give a hint as to why I will...

"The dome could no longer accommodate the demands of research activities taking place there, however, and each year the structure sunk deeper into the ice it was built on. Blowing snow that collected on top of it had to be removed and hauled away, burning up precious fuel and crew time during the short austral summer. The international treaty that governs human activities in Antarctica requires that buildings and equipment no longer in use be removed and the site remediated whenever possible, necessitating the dome's deconstruction and removal."

Re:And Here is Why (2, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31430256)

[...] each year the structure sunk deeper into the ice it was built on.

Everyone said I was daft to build a dome on an ice sheet, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the ice. So I dismantled that one and built another. That sank into the ice. So I dismantled that one and built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the ice. But the fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad, the strongest dome in all of Antarctica!

(Sorry. It just came to me...)

Re:And Here is Why (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31449744)

I thought the third one was taken back in time to serve as a base in an ancient war, and that the fourth was destroyed, with only the fifth (and last) being put to use.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31430040)

I spent a year there, and I never went if the freakin' thing. Closest I got to it was on the official decommissioning photo, when Dog pulled the American flag down and we all posed in front of the sign.

Watching The Penguin try to get off the side of the Dome without falling was the funniest part.

Old Pole is cooler (pun intended) than Old Dome.

South Pole Crew (5, Interesting)

ArtificialPulse (1462259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31431200)

I'm one of the 47 down here for the 2010 Winter season, the crew is missing the Dome. It was an icon in Antarctica, and this place feels like it's missing something without it. Someone pointed earlier to Spindler's website http://www.southpolesation.com/ [southpolestation.com] where there is much more on the deconstruction from the unofficial South Pole historian. -- http://www.artificialpulse.com/ [artificialpulse.com]

They finally ended the embarassment (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31431222)

Geodesic dome design died out around the same time hippie communes did. They were looking for a new building that didn't scream "Hey man, check out my groovy new bell-bottoms!"

Re:They finally ended the embarassment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31434882)

The hollywood Dome is about to die. Maybe they could put one inside the other?

You Insensitive Clods (1)

mdm42 (244204) | more than 4 years ago | (#31435372)

What's with calling it "the bottom of the world"? In space there is no "up".

Arrogant Southist assholes. Allow me to refer you to a more correct map of the planet [flourish.org] (though I'd still prefer to see an equal-area projection used instead of Mercator's abomination.)

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