Research vessel Polarstern

Almost 270 arctic and antarctic expeditions

Research vessel Polarstern 640x360
Polarstern is one of the world’s most powerful polar research ships.

The research vessel Polarstern was first commissioned in 1982. Since then, the ship has completed almost 270 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic (autumn 2018). Specially designed for working in polar seas, Polarstern is currently one of the most sophisticated polar research and supply vessels in the world. And although it has been in service for over 35 years, it can still fully perform its operational duties thanks to the modern technology on board.

The ship is equipped for research in the areas of biology, geology, geophysics, glaciology, chemistry, oceanography and meteorology. It has nine research laboratories and can be equipped with additional laboratory containers.

Organisational details

This research vessel is operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven. It is owned by the Federal Government, represented by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Facts and figures

Max. 44 crew and approx. 50 researchers

Daily cost of operation: 70,000 euros

Approx. 310 days a year at sea

Research activities

Scientists on board Polarstern conduct

  • polar research
  • earth research
  • marine research
  • climate research


Budget of Polarstern 640x360
Source: AWI

The Alfred Wegener Institute, which operates Polarstern, has a budget of 149 million euros (2017). Because the AWI belongs to the Helmholtz Association, 90% of its annual budget comes from federal funds, with 10% provided by three German states (Länder).

Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research


Am Handelshafen 12
27570 Bremerhaven
+49 471 4831-0

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