The Airbus Foundation has signed an agreement with the Polar POD expedition to support both the scientific program and the operational phase of the mission. The Airbus Foundation will provide access to products and services such as Earth observation satellite data, as well as offering additional capabilities for reliable high-speed telecommunications. 

The maritime expedition, driven by renowned French explorer and scientist Jean-Louis Etienne’s non-profit organization “Océan Polaire”, aims to better understand global environmental and climate dynamics. Running for several years, it will achieve this by monitoring the Southern Ocean using an innovative inhabited low-carbon vessel: the Polar POD. 

It has no engine and will be propelled by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, sails and wind power. The aim of the Polar POD initiative is to measure air-sea exchanges to improve climate studies, detect man-made impacts (such as micro-plastics, pesticides, etc.), and analyze the ocean’s weather, waves, winds and color to improve satellite calibration.

 “Polar POD will explore the Southern Ocean, which has the world’s largest ocean data gap. Severely under-sampled by traditional methods, we have designed the Polar POD: a floating inhabited laboratory that can withstand the severe conditions of the ‘Furious Fifties’ all year round. This huge circumpolar ocean is the largest oceanic carbon sink on Earth; climate models have an urgent need for this uptake of CO2. The Southern Ocean, which links the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific waters, is an immense reservoir of marine biodiversity. Polar POD, a silent platform, is a unique opportunity to make an acoustic census of marine life. The resulting data will be shared by scientific institutions worldwide, and will be available for collaborative educational projects,” said Jean-Louis Etienne, thanking the Airbus Foundation for contributing to this unprecedented and long-awaited maritime exploration.

Airbus optical and radar satellite constellations will support the scientific studies of the Polar POD initiative, offering better resolution than public satellites. The Airbus Foundation will also provide access to additional Airbus services such as telecommunication services for high-speed data transmissions, in this remote part of the world, far from commercial maritime routes. These services will also enable live transmissions during television broadcasts with a higher resolution.