Halley Automation

Halley Automation

Start date
1 January, 2017
End date
1 January, 2022

This innovative, multi-year, project aims to provide a micro-turbine power supply and datalink to a suite of autonomous scientific instrumentation around the Halley VI Research Station and on the Brunt Ice Shelf.  This system will enable data collection throughout the Antarctic winter when the station may be unoccupied.

This project will preserve core science data streams from Halley:

  • Meteorology and Ozone Monitoring
  • Tropospheric Chemistry and Climate
  • Space Weather and Upper Atmospheric Observations.
  • Glaciology of the Brunt Ice Shelf

Experiments that contribute to each of these areas of science at Halley can broadly be split into two power supply domains: those requiring low power and those requiring high power:

Low power systems

The automation of experiments requiring low power is straight forward and represents tried and tested field based systems that are in use across Antarctica. Several experiments are already running in this manner at Halley VIa station as part of normal station operations and will be maintained as part of this project, these include:

  • 3 x Automatic Weather Stations  (Meteorology and Climate)
  • 1 x Autonomous Tropospheric Ozone Monitor (Tropospheric Chemistry)
  • 3 x Autonomous VLF receiver (Space Weather and Upper Atmospheric Observations)
  • 1x Auto MOSAIC (Mesospheric chemistry)
  • 1x LPM (Space weather)
  • Entire GPS network across the Brunt Ice Shelf.

One additional low power experiment (SAOZ – Stratospheric Ozone) requires slightly more power than a typical field system can provide and uses a methanol fuel cell power system to supplement wind and solar power.

High power system

Automation of experiments requiring high power (230V) requires the use of a power generation system that does not require servicing for a minimum of 9 months and can be fuelled autonomously. This will consist of a containerised generator unit (Capstone C30 micro-turbine) with an autonomous fuelling system.

In order to understand how the micro-turbine is operating there needs to be considerable sensing and IT infrastructure around the implementation:

  • A data link to the system will allow some control from Cambridge
  • The installation of passive monitoring measures will allow monitoring of the micro-turbine and the associated fuelling system throughout the unmanned winter

Visit our micro-turbine

Credit: George Buxey – Brainboxes
This following is a virtual reality scan of the micro-turbine during testing before it was taken to Antarctica
Please explore.
navigation information:

click to start and then and drag to rotate

The Unit was left on a platform above the snow:
The automation platform at Halley Research station. The red container (left) is the electrical and network services, the green container (centre) is the micro-turbine and the white container (right) is the auto-Dobson. Photo credit: Mike Rose.
  • To test the feasibility of micro-turbine systems as a proof of concept for future power supply to automated scientific instruments
  • Add resilience to data capture systems


Thomas Barningham

Halley Automation Project Manager

Joe Meddle

Electrical Services Engineer

Estates team

Matthew Meaden

Electrical and Power Generation Engineer (Rothera)

Nicholas Gregory

Facilities Engineer (Halley)

Vehicles team

Richard Warren

Project Manager SDA Guarantee period

Happy at Halley

2 February, 2022 by Emily Neville

Neil Brims is the Electrician at Halley VI Research Station. In our latest blog, find out what life is like at Halley and how it feels to live at the …

Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica calves

26 February, 2021

A huge iceberg (1270 km²) the size of the county of Bedfordshire has broken off the 150-m thick Brunt Ice Shelf, almost a decade after scientists at British Antarctic Survey …

Automated Halley monitors the ozone hole over Antarctica

16 September, 2020

This World Ozone Day, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) celebrates new technology which enables continuous monitoring of the ozone hole over Antarctica. Readings from the Dobson Ozone Spectrophotometer at Halley Research …

Engineers automate science from remote Antarctic station

25 June, 2019

A remote and unoccupied research station in Antarctica has, for the first time, collected important scientific measurements of climate, ozone and space weather thanks to ground-breaking technology developed by British …

Halley Research Station will not winter in 2018

31 October, 2017

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has decided, for safety reasons, that it will close its Halley VI Research Station during the 2018 Antarctic winter.  This will be the second time that …

Halley VLF receiver

The Halley VLF receiver listens to very-low frequency radio waves as part of a network of receivers located all over the polar regions. The data gathered by this network is used by …

Met instruments

Met tower Meteorological scientists at Halley have been measuring the weather in great detail and with ever more sophisticated gadgets since the station first opened over 50 years ago. Instruments …


SAOZ measures sunlight scattered from the overhead sky in a way that allows us to calculate how much of the atmospheric gases ozone and nitrogen dioxide the light has passed through …