That mission demands a level of reliability that many less remote data centers cannot provide. Raytheon Polar Services held the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic programs support contract until April. As Dennis Gitt, a former director of IT and communications services for the company puts it, a failure anywhere in the Antarctic systems could lose data from events in space that may not be seen again for millennia.
With a maximum population of 150 at the base during the Austral summer, South Pole IT professionals-in-residence are limited to a select few. And they don’t get to stay long—most of the WIPAC IT team only stays for a few months in the summer, during which they have to complete all planned IT infrastructure projects.