The first Palmer Station “Old Palmer” was about a mile to the northwest of the current Station. The site is on what is now known as Amsler Island. Old Palmer, a prefabricated wood structure, was built in 1965, and served as a base for those building “new” Palmer, which opened in 1968. Old Palmer was designated as an emergency refuge for the new station in case of disaster, which was luckily never needed. It was dismantled and removed from the Antarctic as part of the National Science Foundation’s environmental cleanup efforts in the early 1990s. The Station is in use year round.
On the southwestern coast of Anvers Island, north of the Antarctic Circle – (64°46′27″S 64°03′11″W)
The majority of the science research conducted at Palmer Station centers around marine biology. The station also houses year-round monitoring equipment for global seismic, atmospheric and UV monitoring networks. Palmer also hosts a radio receiver that studies lightning over the Western Hemisphere.
Other research is conducted from the R/V Laurence M. Gould. Science cruises cover physical oceanography, marine geology and marine biology. The ship also carries field parties to sites around the Antarctic Peninsula to study glaciology, geology and paleontology.
Area and buildings:
Maximum population may reach 44 in the austral summer. The station, built on solid rock, consists of two major buildings and three small ones (which houses a boathouse, biology laboratory, a carpenter shop, GWR (garage, warehouse, recreation), fuel tanks, the Earth Station for communications, and the Terra Laboratory), plus two large fuel tanks, a helicopter pad, and a dock.
Palmer Station is located near penguin colonies; Adélie, Gentoo and Chin-strap penguins are in abundance during summers, but small numbers can be found in the area at all times of the year. The area is also home to several types of seals: Fur seals, Elephant seals, Crabeater seals and Leopard seals. Minke, Orca and Humpback whales are often spotted too.
The station is named for Nathaniel B. Palmer, a Connecticut sealer who, on 17 November 1820, during an exploratory voyage ranging southward from the South Shetland Islands, may have been the first person to see Antarctica. (British and Russian ships were in the area at about the same time.)
Palmer Station is the smallest of the three research stations operated by the National Science Foundation.