South-African National Antarctic Programme
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Sanae - Antarctica


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After Norway's announcement, during the second half of 1959, that its base (Norway Station) in Queen Maud Land would be evacuated later in that year, and after South Africa had, on 1 December 1959, signed the Antarctic Treaty, together with 11 other countries, the first South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) departed early in December of the same year on the Norwegian ship, the Polarbjorn, to take over the Norwegian base. The ship reached the Antarctic coast near the base on 8 January 1960 and commenced its return voyage 7 days later, after the South Africans had been deployed at the Norwegian base.

Each expedition is made up of the following personnel:

  • 1 Doctor
  • 2 Diesel mechanics
  • 1 Electrical engineer/technician
  • 1 Mechanical engineer/technician
  • 1 Electronic engineer/technician
  • 1 Senior meteorologist
  • 2 Physicists (Electronic/Electrical engineers)

The overwintering team will spend approximately 15 months on the continent of which 10 months in total isolation until the next relief team arrives.


Sanae Base - Antarctica
SANAE IV : South African base station in Antarctica

The new SANAE IV base is built at Vesleskarvet, 220 km due South of SANAE III.

Vesleskarvet is a nunatak which is a rocky outcrop peeping out of a snowy surface. In sharp contrast to the white surroundings, its colour is normally black or dark brown and, in some cases, able to support some sort of life, for instance mosses, algae, a few insects or birds, such as Roberts'Kollen own Snow Petrel colony some 25 km from the SANAE IV base.

HF Radar project
HF Radar Project - Physical sciences

SANAE's research is divided into four programmes:

  • Physical sciences
  • Earth sciences
  • Life sciences
  • Oceanographic sciences

Only the physical sciences programme is conducted year-round at SANAE IV. The other programmes are conducted during the short summer period when the temperatures and weather permits field work and the extent of the sea ice is at its minimum.