Researchers can look forward to improved connectivity at the most popular gateway to the Antarctic continent. The national research and education network of Chile, REUNA, and the Chilean National Research and Development Agency (ANID), have joined forces to create a PoP (Point of Presence) in the harbour city of Punta Arenas, which, for the first time, will allow universities and research centers located in the area to connect to the R&E networks.
Providing connectivity to Antarctic researchers is no simple matter. More than 20 nations have Antarctic research programs using Punta Arenas as their entrance port to the continent, a higher number than any other town or city in the world. Additionally, many aerospace research centers have chosen the city as the base for their operations in the southern hemisphere.
The geographical location of Punta Arenas makes it a strategic point, at a scientific, historical, tourism, geopolitical and economic level. With almost 130,000 inhabitants, Punta Arenas is the southernmost city in the world with more than 100,000 inhabitants. A range of partners have begun constructing an International Antarctic Center there. The project is estimated to cost more than 80 million USD. Funding will be provided by the regional government of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic Region, the Ministry of Public Works and the Chilean Antarctic Institute.
Punta Arenas is the optimal place for the construction of the International Antarctic Center, destined to raise awareness of the white continent, raise the level of scientific research and position the capital of the Magallanes Region as the main “port of entrance” to Antarctica. Further, the International Antarctic Center will be able to provide logistical support for future scientific expeditions.
With expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic regions sharing many points of scientific interest, connecting these two remote areas is a bold ambition for a future project: Connect the Poles project. The integration of the poles in the global research and education network is the last frontier to extending the reach of research and education networks globally.
The inauguration of the International Antarctic Center is scheduled for 2025.