XinaBox / SANAP: Antarctic research mission

Antarctica is not only home to the South Pole, it is also the driest, windiest and coldest continent on the planet.

There are no natives living in this vast, inhospitable wilderness: almost the entire human population of a continent twice the size of Australia is made up of scientific researchers living in hermetically sealed environments:

The SANAE IV research station in Antarctica

Amongst the Antarctic population are members of the South African National Antarctic Program (SANAP) who work out of the SANEA IV base. This research station is located over 4000 km south of Cape Town in Vesleskarvet, which is about 160 km from the edge of the ice shelf. South Africa have had a presence in the Antarctic for over 50 years now, and SANAE IV was completed in 1997.

Diverse and ground-breaking research has been and continues to be undertaken by SANAP, including into the fields of Oceanography, Biology, Geology, Geormorphology and renewable energy.  The SANSA (South African National Space Agency) use the base for research too.  And now STEM...

… Since mid-Feb an XinaBox environmental monitoring rig (our flagship XK01 kit) has been placed in situ outside the base, monitoring and reporting live data to an IoT platform. Our thanks to SANSA for enabling this initiative, which aims to engage school children from South Africa and around the world, giving them a chance to be a part of this mission and contribute to the science that is undertaken there.

Getting to SANAE IV is not easy - even Google Maps can't suggest a route!

The data is being fed directly to an IoT platform from where participating schools can view real time updates and mirror the experimental data in their classrooms using the exact same hardware. We have barely started mining this data: there is so much to learn! And as the data set grows over time we expect all sorts of interesting trends and correlations to emerge, offering a wealth of learning opportunities for students young and old.

For example: The Antarctic is replete with water; the research station is surrounded by endless miles of snow and ice. But the humidity there is low - both in absolute and relative terms. The reason for this perhaps counter-intuitive observation can be found by researching 3 things: the relationship between temperature and the capacity of air to hold water; the temperature at the base (where the maximum is rarely above -8C) and the triple point of water.

You are very welcome to join us in this endeavour: all you need is an XK01 kit and access to the IoT platform. For more information please get in touch with Judi Sandrock ( and Philip Meitiner (

Students in South Africa using an XK01 in a 3d printed enclosure


Footnote: For anyone else who sometimes struggles to separate their Arctic from their Antarctic: think of ants... you would have to look down to see them. Typically we think of South as being 'down'. So remember the 'ant' in Antarctic and you should be fine!