Antarctic ice cap monitoring system

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council. Based in Cambridge UK, it has undertaken the majority of Britain's scientific research on and around the Antarctic continent for more than 60 years.

The requirement

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) approached Amplicon with a requirement for an ice cap monitoring system to be deployed in the Antarctic. The system was needed for data collection and storage, and due to the extreme conditions of the location, the solution needed to withstand a wide operating temperature range and well as resistant to shock and vibration.

The solution

For this project, we used a two-box solution. The first box contained the processing power. Housed in a 4U Industrial Rackmount chassis, the server comprised of Dual Intel Xeon 3.066GHz processors chosen for their speed and overall performance. This machine was effectively a number cruncher so speed was essential.

For this project we also chose an Intel Server board due to its compatibility with Windows 2000, an impressive 4GB ECC Registered RAM was also essential. The operating system was installed on an 80GB IDE hard drive, a Zippy MRW-6400P Dual Redundant 400+400 Watt power supply was specified to give redundancy to the system, limiting downtime was also high on the priority list.

To connect to the storage unit an Adaptec 2120S U320 Single channel RAID controller and an Adaptec 29160 U160 Dual channel RAID controller were used and connected via a SCSI Cable to the second box.

The second box was an industrial 2U chassis housing the storage for the British Antarctic Survey's data. We installed six 147GB U320 SCSI hard drives configured as a RAID 5 array, chosen for their speed and efficiency in transferring data and their well-documented reliability. Another Zippy MRW-6400P Dual Redundant 400+400 Watt Power supply was also specified. 

Before shipping the system, the servers were taken to our EMC test facility to be put through its paces. The system was tested for emissions and immunity to the relevant standards. The system passed through testing without any modification to the original specification.

The system was to be installed into a rackmount enclosure in the back of a de Havilland Twin Otter aircraft. To ensure complete functionality of the systems, the industrial PC's would have to withstand the vibration created by the engines. For this reason, we used a chassis with specially shock-mounted hard drive bays enclosed in ruggedised chassis. In addition, the systems had to withstand adverse storage conditions of up to -20 degrees C.


bas4.jpg The success of this project was the result of an outstanding project support from our sales team.

It was Amplicon's over 50 years of engineering experience and long-standing relationship with the British Antarctic Survey that gave us the edge over our competitors for this solution.