First video link to the South Pole

Bob Loewenstein (
Tue, 27 Sep 1994 17:43:01 -0400

On September 13 we established the first ever video conference link (using
CU-SeeMe) with the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and the outside world.
The 26 winter-over personnel have been in contact with the rest of the world
over HF radio, voice phone, email, and recently the internet.

The link was established over the 32 kbps Internet link via the US. Air Force
Lincoln Experimental Satellite 9 (LES-9) between South Pole Station and the
Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (CARA) headquarters at the
Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin.

The participant at South Pole Station, Michael Hancock, braved 23 knot winds
and -60C temperatures to travel to the remote CARA Observatory, approx. 1 km
distant from the South Pole dome, where a Macintosh computer equipped for the
CU-SeeMe test was located.

Because of increased bandwidth, it became possible to test the CU-SeeMe link
to the pole. Using the 32 kbps link with frequent dropouts, video was quite
acceptable, but voice was not possible while transmitting video. With video
turned off, voice was acceptable only part of the time.

R. F. Loewenstein
Dir. of Computing and Communications
Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica
Yerkes Observatory
University of Chicago