Continuing where I left off:
Originally Posted by flighter
- Cost of building prefab-housing elements
- Cost of all equipment
- Cost of snowmobiles and other vehicles
- Cost of food and fuel supplies
- Cost of transport of all cargo to the final destination
- Cost of airline tickets
- Cost of achieving zero or near zero-polution
- Other costs
I can't help you out on too many specifics, but I saw a figure lately that the U.S. Antarctic program goes through $300m per year, which supports three year-round stations, several summer only stations, transportation, etc., for a peak summer population I'm guesstimating at 1600 (over 1200 at McMurdo, about 250 at Pole, and I'm not sure how many at Palmer, plus those at other summer camps like WAIS) and a winter population of about 200-300 total. Some projects are funded by universities or other groups, and I don't know if that is factored into that budget.
However, it should be noted that that is for paying government contractors, who notoriously charge top rates. Balanced against that is that wages for personnel on the Ice are low compared to wages for workers in the commercial sector in similar environments in the arctic. Depending on the nature of your private mission, wages and other costs could be significantly higher or lower. The costs of the work to be done are also relevant, of course. Deploying multi-million dollar scientific equipment to field camps by helicopter or airplane can get pretty expensive pretty fast. Moving supplies by ship and ground would be much cheaper.
It should also be noted that government contractors tend to hire nationals of their own countries, and the western nations tend to have high wages. This is sometimes justified if it means a higher quality of work and higher production, but in many cases workers and materials could be found at lower prices in other places. Naturally, one needs to exercise caution, as the lowest bidder may well have an inferior product.
5. Enviromental issues
- How to achieve zero or near zero polution
- Waste processing technologies
The US Antarctic Program ships most of its waste back to the United States these days, as a result of that Greenpeace operation I mentioned earlier. They used to dump sewage directly into McMurdo Sound, and they used to take the trash out onto the sea-ice and burn it, allowing the debris to sink to the sea floor when the ice broke up each summer. That was typical decades ago, but most programs now ship their trash out, and some treat their sewage as well. McMurdo Station has a relatively new, modern sewage treatment system, which dumps out water that is almost clean enough to reuse.
However, those may not be the best choices for future programs. Technologies to handle waste are continuously being advanced around the world, and it would be better to look into the state of the art in those fields than to rely on what has been done here in the past - especially as technology in Antarctica tends to lag a little due to a work force that has often been physically or culturally isolated from the latest developments in their respective fields, and due to distance and the time it takes to get the technology here. (If a new item comes out on the market in January and is not important enough to ship by air, it will take at least a year before that item can make its way to McMurdo, and 22 months or more before it is likely to arrive at Pole - assuming the bureaucracy moves with incredible sophistication and speed.)
That said, there are some very interesting things going on in these fields, though unfortunately some of the information is hard to find in English. For example, some nations have developed very efficient incinerators that turn waste to energy and produce almost no pollution, but due to emotional hysteria and scientific illiteracy in much of the English-speaking world, these are not politically viable in many English-speaking nations. (In fairness, similar emotional hysteria and scientific illiteracy has prevented the use of genetically engineered foods in much of Europe.)
6. Anything else that can affect the mission in any way
Shortly after my previous post, a Canadian working here mentioned that the dry air has been causing the skin on his fingers to crack, which he had never had trouble with in the Arctic, which reminds me: Antarctica is VERY dry.
This has some benefits: staying warm in cold and dry weather is easier than staying warm in cold and wet weather. On the other hand, there are some serious ill effects as well, one of which is that electronics tend to have a short life span due to static electricity.
Now, a computer center might be humidified to the point where it is not a problem, or hardware might be hardened for use elsewhere (or simply considered expendable if cheap enough), but it would probably be best not to rely on sophisticated electronics for any emergency systems.
Electricity in general, however, is a necessity here. The problem with static does not affect all components equally: it is primarily the sophisticated electronics with extremely small parts (computer chips and the like) that are in danger from static electricity. I am also reminded that the mechanics at South Pole told me that the older heavy equipment - from the 1960s and early 1970s - works best there, as the newer stuff has electronics that don't last long, though I'm not sure if that is due to static electricity or just the cold.
If you are thinking in terms of a Martian colony, the cold and aridity will be even greater, and the same lesson may well hold: keep it as simple as possible.
I personally also prefer passive solutions to active (mechanical) ones, because most passive systems don't have sudden failures, and a mixture of solutions might buy time to repair a mechanical system (e.g., good insulation and weatherproofing gives you more time to fix the boiler, as well as reducing the size and complexity of the mechanical system needed to heat a building).
Considerable attention should also be paid to the psychological profiles of anyone working in a remote location. Not everyone can handle it gracefully.
One final word: all sorts of technologies are changing, and there are some incredible things coming that will change what it means to be in a remote location. Most notably, the internet has allowed those of us in Antarctica to remain connected to the outside world in a way that winter overs in the 1960s, or even the 1980s, could have scarcely believed, and the emerging field of desktop manufacturing may have another large effect soon. Eventually, the combination of communications technology and nanotechnology may well make location a thing of little importance - except, of course, for things like scenery. And nothing compares to Antarctic scenery.