Department of Physics

Space Physics Antarctic Expedition 8 nearing departure

The 8th expedition of the Otago Space Physics group to Antarctica will comprise of on-ice event leader Dr James Brundell supported by PhD student Emma Douma. The main goal of this expedition is to install a new WWLLN electric field antenna near Scott Base. They will travel to the ice on Monday, 16th November for 8 days with logistics support, comprising air transport, accommodation and all other on-ice support provided through Antarctica New Zealand event K060.

Image of Scott Base indicating the site for the new WWLLN electric field antenna, shown by a yellow pin.


Currently the AARDDVARK magnetic field antenna at Arrival Heights is used to provide data for the AARDDVARK and WWLLN networks. However, over recent years the noise in the VLF range has steadily worsened, possibly due to the Ross Island Wind Farm. Expeditions 6 and 7 carried out noise measurements around Arrival Heights and Scott Base, and found that there was significantly reduced electric field noise in the VLF range near Scott Base.

Thus, James and Emma will install a new WWLLN electric field antenna (which takes measurements in the VLF range) near Scott Base. James has designed the new antenna which will be sent to Antarctica before the two person team goes down. A successful trial run of the antenna instalment was achieved by James and Emma on the North ground sports field by the University of Otago, and some data was acquired.

The trial instalment of the new WWLLN electric field antenna at the North ground sports field, with a close up of the connection between the antenna and the pre amp box connected to the mast.

James (returning to Antarctica for the 7th time) and Emma (1st time on the ice) will also be gathering some high resolution data, undertake calibrations and a general inspection of the condition of the AARDDVARK radio receiver originally installed in December 2008 by Dr James Brundell and Prof Craig Rodger. James and Emma will fly to Christchurch on Sunday, 15th November, where they will be issued Antarctic clothing by Antarctica New Zealand and attend the initial briefings. Weather permitting, they will fly South on Monday, 16th November on a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster II down to the Ross Sea, where Emma can celebrate her birthday on the ice! After completing the safety briefings, required field training and acquiring their Antarctic driver’s license the team will be ready to unpack the new antenna and get to work.


The new WWLLN electric field antenna packaged and ready to send to Antarctica in advance of the team.