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Antarctica lacks many things, such as sunshine much of the year and good opera, but it has federal computers. For example, McMurdo Station atop the volcanic rock of Ross Island has systems configured in a LAN, available for use all the time, and provided with 24-hour, seven-day help desk support, according to the U.S. Antarctic Program. USAP is part of the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs and supported by Raytheon Polar Service Co.

Polar scientists have developed various federally funded systems, including an advanced weather model called the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System.

It helped rescuers during the hazardous winter medical evacuation of physician Ron Shemenski from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in April 2001, according to the program's Web newspaper, the Antarctic Sun.

Check out AMPS at www.mmm.ucar.edu/rt/mm5/amps.tml.

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