Case Study

RRS Sir David Attenborough

Starlink Maritime – Fully Managed Connectivity

British Antarctic Survey- RRS Sir David Attenborough

The RRS Sir David Attenborough, operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), embarked on its inaugural science season in October 2023. It plays a crucial role in polar research, particularly in Antarctica, where it conducts critical climate research and data acquisition. To enhance connectivity and overcome the challenges of remote data communication, BAS worked with with The Clarus Networks Group to deploy Starlink’s revolutionary maritime connectivity.

Attribution: British Antarctic Survey

Key Statistics

The RRS Sir David Attenborough, named after the renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough, is one of the world’s most advanced polar research vessels.

The vessel is 129 meters long and can accommodate up to 60 scientists and support staff.

It is equipped with cutting-edge laboratories, including wet and dry labs, to facilitate a wide range of scientific experiments and research activities.

The ship is capable of breaking ice up to 1.5 meters thick, allowing it to navigate through challenging polar waters with ease.

The Challenge

Conducting research in Antarctica presents an array of unique and formidable challenges. The extreme remoteness of the region means that traditional communication infrastructure is virtually non-existent, leaving research vessels like the RRS Sir David Attenborough isolated for extended periods. These remote Antarctic waters are known for their harsh environmental conditions, with extreme cold, hail, sleet, heavy rain, and gale-force winds posing constant threats to equipment and data communication.

Researchers aboard the vessel face a dual challenge. First, the need for real-time data transmission is critical for conducting climate research, ensuring the safety of the crew, and sharing findings with the global scientific community. Second, crew members’ welfare relies on maintaining a stable and robust connection to communicate with loved ones and access support systems.

“Connecting people at our bases and on the ship to the rest of the world has never been easier – Starlink has transformed communication for everyone at BAS. Having a consistently fast and reliable connection has opened avenues that were not possible before with older satellite technology, and working in remote, isolated areas is now so much easier and safer for everyone.

Faster speeds now possible with Starlink enables scientists to collect and deliver data more effectively and makes it easier for those in Antarctica to reliably stay in contact with friends and family.

Clarus continue to innovate and develop additional services that make managing our remote sites easier and more convenient, from at-a-glance updates to in-depth data mining and metrics.”

British Antarctic Survey

The Solution

To address these formidable challenges, BAS collaborated with The Clarus Networks Group to integrate Starlink Maritime technology aboard the RRS Sir David Attenborough. This groundbreaking collaboration ensured that even in the most adverse Antarctic conditions, robust and real-time data transmission was possible. The solution includes:

  • Starlink Flat High Performance Antennas: These antennas are specifically designed to withstand extreme cold, heat, hail, sleet, heavy rain, and gale-force winds. They provide a stable connection even in the harshest weather conditions.
  • Impressive Download/Upload Speeds: Starlink Maritime offers download speeds of up to 220Mbps and upload speeds of up to 40Mbps at sea, ensuring efficient data transfer for research purposes.
  • Low Latency: With a latency of 20-99ms, researchers can conduct real-time communication and data transmission without delays.

The Results

Starlink Maritime’s state-of-the-art technology facilitated swifter and more effective data transfer between the RRS Sir David Attenborough and shore, achieving transfer speeds up to 300 times faster than conventional VSAT systems.

The seamless transfer of bandwidth-intensive data enhanced the overall communication capabilities of the vessel, supporting real-time collaboration and data sharing among researchers.

The increased bandwidth also significantly improved crew welfare, providing a more robust and stable connection for communication with loved ones, accessing support systems, and enhancing the overall quality of life for the crew.

This collaboration between BAS and The Clarus Networks Group, alongside the deployment of Starlink Maritime technology, showcases their joint dedication to leveraging advanced technology for enhanced global connectivity and performance. By working together, they aim to harness the power of modern technological solutions to drive innovation and progress in their respective fields.

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