Aurora Australis over the Halley VI Research Station in Antarctica
© Stuart Holroyd/Alam
Southern lights for Antarctica Day
We’re marking Antarctica Day with the dazzling southern lights above Halley VI, the latest version of the six-decade-old Halley Research Station in the British Antarctic Territory. This modular building stands on hydraulic legs and can be moved using retractable skis. Antarctica’s harsh climate took its toll on the five previous facilities, Halley I - V, and each were decommissioned.
Since 2017, while scientists monitor dangerous cracks in the surrounding Brunt Ice Shelf, Halley has been unmanned during the dark Antarctic winter months - but the research team equipped it with an autonomous micro-turbine that keeps its atmospheric instruments ticking, as the snowdrifts pile up.
The first Antarctica Day was 1 December 1959, when 12 nations peacefully agreed to dedicate Earth's southernmost continent to the pursuit of science by signing the Antarctic Treaty. That agreement, adopted by both the US and the USSR amid the accelerating Cold War, stands 60 years later as an important landmark in global relations and has expanded to include 54 countries.