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The AST Group (AST) and its valued partner based in Germany, MediaMobil provides Iridium Certus for research icebreaker, Polarstern for its MOSAiC expedition – the largest Arctic expedition in history to track a full annual cycle of the drifting polar ice to better understand climate change.

About the customer  

The MOSAiC expedition supported by the Alfred Wegener Institute, aims at a breakthrough in understanding the Arctic climate system and in its representation in global climate models. MOSAiC will provide a more robust scientific basis for policy decisions on climate change mitigation and adaptation and for setting up a framework for managing Arctic development sustainably.

The expedition will run from September 2019 and more than 600 researchers from 19 countries will take part in this exceptional endeavor.

The challenge 

The Arctic is the key area of global climate change, with warming rates exceeding twice the global average and warming during the winter even larger. It is well possible that the Arctic ocean will become ice free in summer during the 21st century. This dramatic change strongly affects weather and climate on the whole northern hemisphere and fuels rapid economic development in the Arctic.

In October 2019 the German research icebreaker, Polarstern set sail from Tromsø, Norway, to spend a year drifting through the Arctic Ocean - trapped in ice. The expedition leads to northern latitudes above 80 degrees. The vessel will be at the center of a constellation of buoys, ice-tethered profilers, remote stations, underwater drifters, and unmanned aerial systems. More than 600 scientists will operate in shifts throughout the year, both on and off the vessel, collecting and sending data back to base. The need for reliable communications is crucial.

The solution 

Iridium Certus was the obvious choice for this project being the only network to provide reliable coverage in these remote polar regions, with the ability to deliver the highest data speeds available in the region. The easy to install, robust Thales VesseLINK terminals provided by AST, combined with their unique INTEGRA global IP network will guarantee secure, high performance connectivity that will provide the crew and scientists onboard the Polarstern a stable line of reliable communications for scientific activities during the expedition.

"The Certus system is extremely important for the success of the mission. For short-term planning, processed and high-resolution satellite ice maps are required, which are sent on board by the institute”, says Thomas Liebe, Technical superintendent for research vessel Polarstern. And he adds “This data must be available on board in the shortest possible time. Furthermore, data measured on site are sent to the various institutes for further processing. The Iridium Certus service will also be used to send pictures and videos for public relations and for the crew and scientists’ to contact their families". 

Andreas Nil, MediaMobil says, “We have chosen AST as the Iridium Certus airtime provider because of their close integration with Iridium, both network and know-how wise, and their approach to support us to provide the hardware and service for this challenging project.” And he adds “We have worked with the Alfred Wegner Institute since 2006 on numerous projects and are very proud to be associated with this historical expedition”.