The Antarctic Sun - Features Section United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
Dome FAQs

Dedicated on Jan. 9, 1975, the South Pole Dome became an icon for scientific research on the continent. Some interesting facts about the Dome include:

  • The geodesic (great circle) dome frame spans 164 feet. It is about 50 feet high with arches 830 feet long.
  • The dome has 1,448 I-beam struts with 84 bolts each at 490 connection points.
    South Pole Dome and Elevated Station
    Photo Credit: Scot Jackson/Antarctic Photo Library
    The South Pole Dome and Elevated Station in February 2009. Skylab can be seen in front of the dome.
  • The dome structure includes more than 900 thin panels made of aluminum alloys for maximum low temperature strength and minimum weight.
  • No shipped component of the dome weighed more than 50 pounds.
  • All pieces for the dome could fit within an LC-130, and it took only three flights to transport the entire structure to the South Pole. In comparison, material for the new station required 900 LC-130 flights over the course of a decade.
  • The dome design was based on geometric concepts promoted by R. Buckminster Fuller, the famous architect and inventor.
  • The dome was originally designed to last 10 years and house 33 people during the Southern Hemisphere summers. Seventeen men spent that first winter under the dome.
  • The foundation includes 70 timber pad spread footings buried in the snow for each of the 70 dome base points.
  • The erected dome could be as much as five inches smaller than the shipped dome components due to thermal contraction.

Back to the main story: Deconstruction of the Dome

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share This Site on Pinterest Subscribe to USAP RSS Feeds Share Via Email
Curator: Peter Rejcek, Antarctic Support Contract | NSF Official: Winifred Reuning, Division of Polar Programs