The station, built on solid rock, consists of two major buildings and three small ones, plus two large fuel tanks, a helicopter pad, and a dock. Somewhat over 40 people can occupy Palmer in the summer. Wintering population is about 10, although Palmer does not have a long period of winter isolation as do McMurdo and South Pole. Palmer Station is superbly located for biological studies of birds, seals, and other components of the marine ecosystem. It has a large and extensively equipped laboratory and sea water aquarium. In 1990 it was designated by the National Science Foundation as a long term ecological research (LTER) site. Meteorology, upper atmosphere physics, glaciology also have been pursued at and around Palmer.