The Soviets have had a long and sustained interest in research and exploratory activities on and underneath the Arctic icepack. Soviet “ice research stations” have been established on the Arctic ice floe since the early 1930s with their “Northpole” series or “scientific expeditions.”
An article in a recent issue or tbe East German parBllilitary journal, Poseidon, offered an interesting description or a newly-designed Soviet “suspended” underwater station, intended to extend the capability or people to remain underneath the icepack. The station, named “Antipod,” the magazine reports, was tested successfully as part of the Soviet “Northpole 22” ice-floe expedition in 1980.
The article. authored by V. Grischtschenko, prefaces its description of the “Antipod” station with a summary of the scientific value of polar oceanic research and of the difficulties that are unique to establishing underwater habitats below the ice floe. The Soviet Academy of Sciences was evidently tasked some years ago with the design and construction of a portable under-ice research station. The Academy first came up with a design known as “Sprut.” Sprut was an inflatable structure that. when in place, was secured to the ocean floor by some sort of anchoring system. It turned out to be a failure. The Soviet’s next attempt was the “Antipod,” shown in Figure 1.
“Antipod.” like “Sprut,” is an inflatable design that reputedly weighs only “a few kilograms.” The station in a deflated condition is lowered by divers through the ice entry point. It is then moved to the desired location for its buoyant attachment against the overhead ice. The attaching “mechanism” is a rubberized flotation collar that also serves as a buoyancy reserve in case of a leak in the station’s jacket. Once emplaced, compressed air is piped into the jacket via a hose connected to the research station established on the ice floe.
Depending on the intended use of the station, i.e. as a temporary shelter for divers or as a •long-term” scientific observation post, the jacket is inflated to a volume that can vary from a “few” to “several dozen” cubic meters; the distribution of the internal air pressure is maintained proportional to the heighth of the station between the bottom entrance hatch and the buoyancy collar. Tanks of compressed air are stored inside the station in case of an emergency. Figure 2 depicts “Antipod• as fully deployed.
J. S. B.