Please click the questions below to view answers. If you have additional questions not represented here, please use the Contact Us form to submit your query.

  1. What is the Future USAP website?

    Future USAP is a part of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP), run by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). Future USAP is dedicated to long range investments in facilitating science spread across the three permanent United States Antarctic Program permanent stations: McMurdo, Palmer, and South Pole. This includes support of USAP's scientific mission through a series of redevelopments and upgrades to the buildings, logistics and technology that make up these stations. Additional information about Future USAP is also available.

  2. What audiences does this site serve?

    This site is intended to serve as an organizational and information-sharing tool for all stakeholders in USAP and the support of Antarctic science, including:

    • General public
    • NSF Scientific grant-recipients
    • Other U.S. government agencies:
      • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
      • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
      • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
    • Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica (Operation DEEP FREEZE) (U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, Navy, and Coast Guard)
    • Personnel of the Antarctic Support Contract (ASC)
    • Fixed wing and helicopter providers
    • Other stakeholders within the U.S. National Science Foundation

    The purpose of this site is not to directly share research or scientific information, but instead focus on the support of science in Antarctica through ongoing construction, equipment, information technology, and logistics.

    Engaging Our Community offers more information on the purpose of this site.

  3. I am looking for more information on a specific station, program area, or project.

    The goal of the Future USAP website is to evolve over time to cover a progressively broader range of topics and stations. The starting point for much of work in the coming years is a major infrastructure investment in McMurdo Station. As such, much of our current content focuses on this topic.

    In the coming weeks and months, we will expand our site to include more information on Palmer and South Pole Stations, as well as information on upcoming projects that more directly impact information technology, fleet/vehicles, ECW gear, and logistics. If you have specific requests, please contact us. has information on current operations and logistics.

  4. How will AIMS and other constructions projects impact the science and research on the stations?

    Once construction has begun, our goal is to minimize impact on research facilities. When it is determined to be necessary, every attempt will be made to relocate science activities – either temporarily or permanently – to reduce or eliminate any major disruptions. In addition, NSF intends to schedule and complete as much construction work as possible during winter months, when station populations are smaller and fewer scientific activities are taking place to reduce construction conflicts.

  5. What is a Master Plan?

    A Master Plan is a plan that describes and maps an overall development concept for a community or region. Each Master Plan is our framework for the redevelopment of each individual station in Antarctica.

    A major component of each Master Plan is the solicitation of feedback from major stakeholders in the scientific and government communities. This helps us better understand key workflows, equipment and spatial requirements, physical constraints, and zoning considerations for the project. A completed Master Plan will typically contain details of building sites, infrastructure routing, roads and pedestrian walkways, and an overall anticipated timeline, if available.

    A Master Plan is valuable since it provides a visual representation of the current station or community and a plan for the future, as well as the steps necessary to get there. A Master Plan also gathers together diverse values and viewpoints, combines them into a unified approach, and then assimilates the results into a building program. To that end, a Master Plan represents the combined needs and efforts of all major stakeholders. Once the Master Plan is complete, it can be used as a tool to quickly inform project participants about future plans while also garnering support from executives who control funding.

  6. How is the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science (AIMS) project different from the Master Plan?

    The McMurdo Master Plan establishes the framework of the McMurdo station. AIMS is the overarching project that will take some or all of the work described in the Master Plan, as well as other development projects, to the next level of design and through construction.

  7. Who provided input into the Master Plans and how did you solicit that input?

    Hundreds of people have provided input into the Master Plans. NSF, the grantee community, current and former support staff, and ancillary support agencies have all provided requirements and ideas for improvement. Input was solicited through several phases: a stage known as Charrettes (intense planning sessions), formal review meetings, and several weeks of requirements gathering exercises at McMurdo and stateside locations.

  8. Efficiency is referenced quite a bit in the McMurdo Master Plan. What are the primary drivers for efficiency and what assumptions were used in the development of the Master Plan?

    A main focus of the Master Plan is to optimize the logistical and operational efficiency with which McMurdo operates. This will be accomplished through more efficient work-center locations, consolidation of material storage, and much shorter utility runs. The completed plan will result in greater centralization, less reliance on vehicular transport, and high-density storage with modern racking systems to optimize the space needed for materials.

  9. The Master Plan says that the new McMurdo station design is intended to provide a viable platform for science for 35-50 years. How does the Master Plan address changing needs, and thus changing facility requirements, for science and scientific platforms that are not even conceived of yet?

    The Master Plan promotes scalability and flexibility to ensure accommodation of a wide ranging and diverse set of scientific requirements. This means that buildings are designed with the ability to be re-configured as new science requirements emerge. Spaces proposed within the Master Plan and subsequent documentation will accommodate a diverse range of scientific activities, scopes, and sizes.

  10. Many of the buildings in the Master Plan look futuristic and show features such as big open spaces and large windows that don't seem to be ideal for the continent's environment. How will final decisions be made on material selections and building features?

    Design as presented in the Master Plan is conceptual only. Building envelope development, mechanical systems, and construction materials will all be vetted through the architectural design process. Tools for energy modeling, traffic-flow modeling, and snow drifting/deposition modeling will be used to ensure the architectural “feel” of the buildings compliments the reality of McMurdo's environment.

  11. What specific alternative energy sources are being considered for the station?

    NSF is committed to reducing the carbon footprint during the re-development of McMurdo station. Additional wind turbines, solar panels, and other alternative energy sources such as micro-turbines and waste-to-energy options will be considered and incorporated to the extent that technology, cost and reliability will allow.

  12. I have additional questions about Future USAP and some ideas for ongoing development. How should I send in my ideas or questions?

    Questions and/or inputs can be sent to us via the Contact Us. form