The Urinals of the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory

The Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory (MAPO) is located about 1km from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, in what is known as the "Dark Sector", in Antarctica.

Filed under: Top 1,000 Urinals | Landmarks | Eductional Institutions

These pictures were submitted by an independent contributor. He writes: "Across the skiway (snow runway) from the dome (where the 25 year old station is) and the new station, about 1 km away, in an area referred to as the 'dark sector', is MAPO. (The dark sector is so named because the zone is designated to be free of radio noise so as not to interfere with radio astronomy experiments being conducted there.) MAPO is supported about one story above the snow by a framework meant to allow the snow to blow through, thus avoiding drifting problems... When originally built, MAPO had a fully functioning lav. with a reservoir beneath it. The reservoir is no longer used, and I have heard there is a colorful story that relates to why. The result is that the flush urinal, toilet and sink no longer work. The lav looked like this in January of 2000. The funnel is for exactly what you think it is for... urinating. The barrel has the word "UBARREL" stenciled on top of it. When it is full, some station personnel install a plug, move it outside, and eventually 'retro' it back to the states (in particular, it is shipped to Port Hueneme, CA for disposal)."

"The winter population of the south pole station (from Feb 15 'til about mid October) is about 35 to 45 people, who mostly use the lavatory and shower facilities at the station itself. I know of one in the galley, and two in the buildings where the sleeping quarters for winter-overs is located. When the population is high enough they also open one of the lav's at summer camp. During the summer, the pole population peaks around 220, or possibly more this year because of the space available in the new station. Summer camp accommodates about 160 or 170 people in insulated Quonset style platform tent structures (called Jamesways) divided into individual compartments curtained off from an aisle down the middle. None of the Jamesways have a lav in them. Instead, there are separate buildings each with a lav for men and one for women. The facilities are rather conventional and well kept up... Near MAPO, there is an outdoor toilet [pictured above]. The solar outhouse is architecturally interesting. The outside walls are covered with sheets of Plexiglass. The inside walls are made of sheets of 3/4" plywood with gaps at the top and bottom. The sides of the plywood sheets facing the Plexiglass, and the 2x4's are painted black to absorb sunlight passing through the Plexiglass. Air flows into the lower gap, up between the plywood and plastic where it picks up heat, and out the top gap thus warming the building! Without a heater, with an outside temperature of -20F, the inside of the solar heated outhouse is kept a cozy 50 F or so... The outhouse is divided into a urinal part, and a toilet part... The funnel is for exactly what you think it is for. It is attached to [a hose thar runs to a barrel outside]. The can is there to catch accidental drips..."