The national science foundation announced on Wednesday 14 September that a new Stellar Link user terminal has been installed on the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, which means SpaceX’s satellite internet service is now partially available on the seven continents. While, according to Yahoo financethere was already a more traditional satellite internet connection in the resort, connection to Starlink should alleviate stiff competition for limited bandwidth.
“USAP scientists supported by NSF in #Antarctic are thrilled! Starlink is testing polar service with a newly deployed user terminal at McMurdo Station, increasing bandwidth and connectivity for science support. – National Science Foundation on Twitter
So how exactly does Starlink work and how will it improve the internet in rural areas when satellite internet already exists? To be completely honest, I really had no idea until I started researching this story. First, according to PC MagazineSatellite Internet generally works by transmitting data over radio waves, rather than wires. The ground stations transmit to the satellites, the satellites send this information back to the users, and vice versa.
What Starlink does differently is in the height and number of satellites. Most satellite internet services place their satellites about 22,000 miles above the planet. Starlink narrows that distance, firing to keep them about 300 miles above service Earth. On top of that, SpaceX intends to launch around 40,000 satellites into Earth orbit, creating a massive grid with few gaps in coverage. These two factors are supposed to combine to create faster service with much wider coverage and fewer areas where service would be interrupted.
Personally, I think Starlink is a very good idea. Do I really know enough to form a real opinion? Absolutely not, so I won’t try to share more than that. I really think it’s cool that remote research stations have access to faster internet and connections to the rest of the world, though!
USAP scientists supported by NSF in #Antarctic are thrilled! Starlink is testing polar service with a newly deployed user terminal at McMurdo Station, increasing bandwidth and connectivity for science support. pic.twitter.com/c3kLGk8XBV
— National Science Foundation (@NSF) September 14, 2022