Airborne science and technology, Antarctica

Lat. 90°0'0"S, Long. 0°0'0"E

Our airborne national capability

Our airborne science and technology services and facilities contribute to a National Capability programme that is supported by the UK Government and NERC.

Accessing our services

Scientific community access to Antarctic and Arctic infrastructure is coordinated and managed by BAS through the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme and opportunities for polar fieldwork for NERC-funded scientists. We encourage you to contact us as soon as possible to discuss your project requirements. Scientific instruments, sensors and equipment that will be deployed on Twin Otter aircraft require time for installation and certification.  Depending on the instrumentation to be fitted it may be necessary that integration, installation and testing cost are paid.

BAS Air Unit support services

  • Provide the installation guidance and management of science survey equipment onto the BAS Twin Otters and Dash 7.
  • Carry out the installation and certification of the science survey equipment
  • Maintain the core BAS survey equipment
  • Provide survey equipment engineering support during science campaigns
  • Provide the guidance and oversight of UAS flying in Antarctica
  • Provide the development of BAS UAV capability.

Focal point for UK polar science our aims are to:

  • Sustain a UK national capability that delivers scientific understanding of environmental processes over large time and space scales, supports world-leading environmental science, and meets national needs
  • Enable the most ambitious Earth-system science by facilitating long-term, global-scale programmes that integrate research across disciplines
  • Reduce the long-term cost of our large research facilities and invest in new technologies that make far-reaching environmental research and observation more cost-effective
  • Ensure that our research centre thrives as vibrant, innovative, sustainable organisation that attracts and retains the best scientists

Airborne Geophysics

BAS will deliver an airborne geophysical capability deployed on low-cost piloted and autonomous aircraft. This instrument suite includes gravimeter, magnetometers and ice-penetrating radar, which can be flown with LIDAR in support.  The suite has been widely employed on NERC and other grants.  Details here

Airborne meteorological and atmospheric instrument suite (MASIN)

BAS will deliver an instrumented aircraft with suite of atmospheric instruments and scientific expertise ready-to-support grants, collaborations, and strategic programmes.

A aeroplace flying over a snowy landscape

Aerial photography camera

Aerial photography at the British Antarctic Survey The British Antarctic Survey owns and operates a Zeiss RMK large format aerial photography camera. The camera can be fitted to two of …

A view looking east across the Antarctic Peninsula during a flight back to Rothera Station from Fossil Bluff

Airborne Remote Sensing

Two of the four BAS Twin Otters are equipped with a full remote sensing capability, providing scientists with data on land, ice and sea. This includes VNIR & SWIR hyperspectral …

Drilling for success

29 January, 2019 by Michael Dinn

In January 2019 a science and engineering team drilled over two kilometres through the ice sheet in West Antarctica using hot water.  It was the first time they had done this …

ANTARCTIC BLOG: Science from the air #5

26 January, 2016 by Tom Jordan

Wrapping up I have started several of my blog posts saying I am writing in various odd/unusual/uncomfortable locations…the back of a Twin Otter, or in a mountain tent high on …

ANTARCTIC BLOG: Science from the air #1

7 December, 2015 by Tom Jordan

Tom Jordan is part of the PolarGAP project, an ambitious international collaboration which will use airborne geophysics to explore one of the last known frontiers on our planet – the …

First flights of uncrewed aircraft in Antarctica

22 February, 2024

A team testing the Windracers ULTRA drone in Antarctica has shared the first video footage of the aircraft flying autonomously over British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station and its …

Pilotless plane test crew arrives in Antarctica

3 February, 2024

A team have arrived at Rothera Research Station, ready to start testing the new Windracers ULTRA autonomous drone in Antarctica. If successful, the new drone platform could represent a major …

Flying campaign to improve climate modelling begins

3 February, 2023

A team of scientists are currently conducting a major experiment over the Southern Ocean that will help to improve climate modelling. The Southern Ocean Clouds project team are performing several …

Antarctica’s magnetic link to ancient neighbours

10 March, 2021

For the first time, an international team of scientists has used satellite magnetic data from ESA’s Swarm mission, together with aeromagnetic data, to help reveal the mysteries of the geology …

Scientists to study methane emissions in North Sea

23 April, 2019

Scientists embark on a three-week flying campaign today (23 April) to study methane emissions from gas fields in the southern North Sea. Using specialised scientific equipment, on board one of …

Air unit awarded prestigious aviation award

11 August, 2017

The British Antarctic Survey Air Unit have been awarded the Johnston Memorial Trophy for 2017 by The Honourable Company of Air Pilots. This is a considerable acknowledgement of the regard held …

New field season begins

29 November, 2016

As spring returns to the southern hemisphere British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has started another research season which will take them over land, sea and ice in search of answers to …

International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration

This joint UK-US research programme aims to improve the understanding of the processes affecting ice sheet stability to predict, with more certainty, the future impact of sea-level rise from Thwaites …

Arctic Summer-time Cyclones

The Arctic Summer-time Cyclone Project is a joint project of scientists from the University of Reading, University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey with expertise in atmospheric dynamics, …

Filchner Ice Shelf System, Antarctica

Understanding the contribution that polar ice sheets make to global sea-level rise is recognised internationally as urgent.  The mission of this five-year project is to capture new observations and data …


GOCE+Antarctica- Dynamic Antarctic Lithosphere -is an international project supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) that is using GOCE satellite gravity gradient data, GPS data and innovative 3D modelling to …