After the early death of A. de Quervain it was the physiologist W.R. Hess who pushed the plans for a scientific laboratory at Jungfraujoch. Under his leadership the International Foundation High Alpine Research Station Jungfraujoch was founded in 1930. Only one year later the research station was inaugurated and extensive research started in the fields of physiology, meteorology, glaciology, radiation, astronomy, and cosmic rays. The Sphinx observatory, which was to become a symbol of scientific activity at Jungfraujoch for millions of tourists, was completed in 1937. A first astronomical cupola was installed at its roof in 1950. Due to the increasing demand for observation time and limitations in space two astronomical observatories were installed at Gornergrat in the late 1960's as an integral part of the Foundation.
The Research Station became the base of operations for all scientific work. Today the building includes four laboratories, a pavillon for cosmic ray research, a mechanical workshop, a library, a kitchen, a living room, ten bedrooms, a bathroom, and the living quarters of the custodians. Major equipment includes a machine to produce liquid air. Since the founding of the research station, its infrastructure has been continually adapted to the needs of the users (electricity, water, telephone, chemistry and medical laboratories, liquid nitrogen as coolant, fax, internet).
The Sphinx observatory includes two large laboratories, a weather observation station, a workshop, two terraces for scientific experiments, an astronomical as well as a meteorological cupola. The astronomical cupola is equipped with a 76cm telescope with Cassegrain and Coudé focus. Thanks to a recent large investment by the Jungfraubahn company in a terrace at the new Sphinx building, it is now possible to offer more possibilities for short-term experiments outdoors.
Two custodian couples are present at the research station in alternating shifts all the time. They maintain the infrastructure, operate the guestrooms, and act as the hosts of the researchers. The custodians are also responsible for the daily weather reports to MeteoSwiss (the official Swiss meteorological agency) as well as for the constant supervision of a number of automatic scientific experiments.