The Antarctica stations, or bases if you prefer, are kind of like small cities that cater to scientific researchers who come from a number of different countries. While some of the research stations in Antarctica are staffed year round and are thus labeled as permanent, others are seasonal. The bulk of the seasonal Antarctica stations are open during the southern hemisphere's summer months, which coincide with the winter months in the northern hemisphere. Summer is the peak season for scientific research on this cold and dry continent, and it is estimated that around 5,000 researches visit Antarctica in the summer months. During the winter, the number of researchers at the Antarctica bases drops to around 1,000. Due to the fact that there is a considerable lack of sunlight in Antarctica in the winter, it is the most ideal season for astronomical research.
After World War II ended, scientific research in Antarctica became quite popular. Antarctica doesn't have any permanent residents, and no country has earned the right to stake any permanent claims. Thanks to the Antarctic Treaty, which was originally established in 1959, no country can claim any part of Antarctica as its own. That's not to say that some countries haven't tried to make territorial claims, but as long as the Antarctic Treaty is in force, however, Antarctica will remain an open continent where a free exchange of information and personnel is permitted. The treaty also ensures that the continent will be used only for peaceful purposes, which means that no military operations are permitted. Essentially, Antarctica is everybody's continent, which helps to make it rather unique.
In addition to astronomical research, the scientists that work at the various research stations in Antarctica also study geology, biology, and a list of other disciplines. At the Palmer Station, which is just one of the more than 30 Antarctica stations, the focus is predominantly on the marine ecosystem. You can find this station on Anvers Island, which is just off the Antarctic Peninsula. It is one of three permanent Antarctica bases that are operated by the United States. The McMurdo Station, which is the largest community on the continent, is another US-operated research base, and you can find it on Ross Island in the McMurdo Sound. As for the third research station that is operated by the United States, it can be found at the South Pole. The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is the planet's southernmost continually inhabited place, and life here can be especially tough during the very cold and dark winters. The South Pole Station sits at an elevation of 9,300 feet, which is part of the reason why it's so cold here.
The Palmer Station, the McMurdo Station, and the South Pole Station are just some of the stations that Antarctica visitors can hope to visit. Others include Vostok Station, which is found in the coldest place on earth, and Mawson Station, which is the oldest continuously occupied station south of the Antarctic Circle. While Australia operates Mawson Station, Russia runs the Vostok Station. If you want to visit any of the research stations in Antarctica, you can usually do so when planning a private expedition to the continent. Some of the Antarctica cruises also include a visit to a research station. Palmer Station, for example, is now a featured stop on one of the Antarctica cruises.
When you visit one or more of the research stations in Antarctica, you will gain terrific insight into the lives of the scientists who inhabit them. More often than not, visitors will have the chance to speak with some of the scientists, who are usually more than glad to talk about their research assignments. While some of the people who visit the Antarctica bases only drop by for a relatively short tour, others book overnight stays.
Usually, visitors who have some of their own research projects to work on are the ones who stay overnight at one of the research stations in Antarctica. For example, a small research team studying a specific insect might spend a few days at a station like Palmer Station. It's not luxury living at the Antarctica stations, but you're sure to find that the experience will be hard to top. Antarctica and the stations that are found here are quite different from what you are probably familiar with back home, and they are nothing if they aren't interesting. As a side note, there are also research ships that visit Antarctica with regularity, and they generally work in tandem with specific research stations.