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Research Vessel POLARSTERN – A Floating Large-Scale Laboratory (POLARSTERN)
Hosting Legal Entity
Helmholtz Association
Am Handelshafen 12, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, PO: 27570 (Germany)
Type Of RI
Coordinating Country
Current Status:
Operational since 1982
Scientific Description
POLARSTERN was first commissioned on 9 December 1982. It was specially designed for working in polar seas. POLARSTERN is in the possession of the Federal Republic of Germany, represented by the Ministry of Education and Research, operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research.Between November and March it usually sails to and around the waters of the Antarctic, while the northern summer months are spent in Arctic waters. The ship is equipped for biological, geological, geophysical, glaciological, chemical, oceanographic and meteorological research, and contains nine research laboratories. Additional laboratory containers may be stowed on and below deck. Refrigerated rooms and aquaria permit the transport of samples and living marine fauna.Research equipment and measuring instruments are positioned with the help of cranes and winches, sometimes at extreme depths. Special sounding devices with depth ranges up to 10,000 metres and which can penetrate up to 150 metres into the sea floor are available for scientific investigations. The computer system on board continuously captures and stores meteorological, oceanographic and other data as required. The ship has a crew of at most 44, and offers work facilities for a further 50 scientists and technicians.

RI Keywords
Biological, Research vessel, Chemical, Ships, Icebreaker, Glaciological, Oceanographic and meteorological research, Arctic, Geophysical, Polar, Antarctica, Geological, Marine Research, Ice, Supply vessel
RI Category
Polar and Cryospheric Research Infrastructures
Scientific Domain
Earth and Environmental Sciences
ESFRI Domain
Access to polar regions


Flexible research platform

Various laboratories and equipment: echo sounders, water analysis, winches, fishery, multy frequency echo sounders, etc.

Date of last update: 17/03/2017
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