5 Of The Coldest Places Where Science Is Happening

Brrrr... illiant!

This winter is so cold. How cold is it? Thanks for asking. This winter is so cold that one lobster scientist in Maine has been trapped on her island home/research station for 32 days. The ice surrounding her island makes it impossible to leave by boat. She has plenty of food stored up for both herself and her dog, but some of her friends decided to drop off some care packages by tossing boxes out of an airplane window (it was a small airplane, don’t freak out.)

Chilly situations are nothing new for some scientists. Take a look at some other very cold locations where science is sizzling, despite the cold temperature.


Living on a hovercraft in the arctic might sound like a modern-day version of Hatchet–or worse, To Start A Fire–but the researchers of the Fram expedition are well-equipped and prepared for life on the ice. The ship, named the Sabvabba is stationed in the Arctic for 18 months (though they will be changing crews this month or next), where it will be studying the seabed and the sea ice.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can not only make it snow in July, they can make it snow inside. At their Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) based in New Hampshire, researchers from the government, academia, and the private sector can test materials and designs in climate-controlled rooms that contain permafrost, ice, or snow.

R.V. Lance in 2013

The Sabvabaa isn’t the only hovercraft adrift on the Arctic sea ice. The Norweigian research vessel, the R.V. Lance is also stuck in the ice, with a team of scientists set to stay in the Arctic Ocean from January to June. There, they’ll be studying the ice and trying to avoid polar bears. You can read more about their adventures at National Geographic, which is publishing regular dispatches from the Lance this research season.


Basically all of Antarctica is a frigid, amazing, scientific wonderland, with about 45 year-round research stations on the continent. Researchers camp out in Antarctica for months on end, studying everything from geology and oceanography to climate change and astrophysics. Check out some of the weirder designs for scientific bases at the South Pole; some of them look like UFOs.


Next year, the International Space Station will be home to the ‘coolest spot in the universe’. That would be the Cold Atom Laboratory, which is set to launch in 2016. It will be used to study how particles behave at low temperatures and in low gravity. The temperature inside the instrument could reach as little as one billionth of a degree above absolute zero. I think we have a winner!