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R/V Polarstern – a floating large scale laboratory


The most important tool in Germany's polar research program is Polarstern, a research and supply vessel.


Current deadlines for the submision of proposals for Expeditions with POLARSTERN

The present schedule for Polarstern cruises is valid until autumn 2014. The new plan will cover the period from October 2014 to October 2016 and will be published in the middle of September 2013. Proposals for SECONDARY USE during this period may be submitted till September 30, of any year.


Next deadline for proposals / secondary use: 30.09.2015 (10/2016 - 10/2019)

Next deadline for porposals / main use:           30.09.2017 (10/2019 - 12/2021)


As of now the proposals may only be submitted via Portal deutsche Forschungsschiffe ( On this site you will also find the guidline how to write the proposal. Please note that proposals will only be accepted in English (see Application).


In case you have any questions, please, do no hesitate contacting us:



Discover Polarstern

Where is Polarstern?

Arctic or Antarctic? Tromsø or Cape Town? The cruise track of Polarstern can be followed in almost real time.

The course plot ... 


Current expedition

Chief scientists report frequently about their expedition and latest discoveries.

To the expedition reports ...


Sound of Polarstern

A piece of polar science at home:  the horn


310 days per year on duty of science

Since the ship was first commissioned on December 9th 1982 Polarstern has completed a total of more than fifty expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. It was specially designed for working in the polar seas and is currently one of the most sophisticated polar research vessels in the world. Polarstern is in the posession 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, and managed by the shipping company Laeisz.

The Polarstern spends almost 310 days a year at sea. 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.


The technical data ...

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