- Education and Science
Little America, Antarctica
The seventh continent, Antarctica, was once called Terra Australis Incognita or the Unknown Southern Land. It's only been a little over 100 years since human beings occupied it in 1899. Antarctica is a cold and mysterious place. It was in the early 18th century when search for the fabled southern land began in earnest. Foul weather and high seas kept explorers from reaching Antarctica. Finally in February 1775, after many failed attempts and near run-ins with icebergs, Captain James Cook from England completed the first circumnavigation of Antarctica proving its existence. He declared it as inhospitable and of little use to anyone.
Admiral Richard E. Byrd (1888-1957) - Though not the first to lead expeditions to Antarctica in subsequent years, Admiral Byrd was the first American to do so. Admiral Byrd was born to a noted family in Virginia and in 1912 entered the United States Naval Academy. He learned to fly planes in World War I and loved flying ever after. On May 9, 1926, Byrd and co-pilot Floyd Bennett attempted a flight over the North Pole. He claimed to have reached his destination though much controversy arose from this claim. Still Byrd received widespread acclaim for this trip and was awarded the Medal of Honor.
In 1928, Admiral Byrd led his first expedition to Antarctica. It involved three airplanes and two ships. This first expedition rekindled American interest in Antarctica. Daily radio accounts and newspaper stories made Byrd's first expedition a common topic of conversation. Once in Antarctica, Admiral Byrd and his crew undertook both photographic and scientific expeditions as well as geological surveys on dogsleds, snowmobiles and in airplanes. They established a base camp on the Ross Ice Shelf and called it "Little America".
Little America, Antarctica - Little America was actually a series of research bases established in Antarctica and located south of the Bay of Whales. Wooden buildings were erected and prepared for the harsh weather conditions to follow. The original base was abandoned in 1930 when Byrd started to notice a series of cracks in the ice around Little America. So a new camp was set up about a mile southeast on higher ground. One of the main objectives of the base was to establish an advanced weather station. In this the expedition was successful and several meteorological observations were continually recorded. Little America was eventually able to regularly broadcast over the radio. As far as 11,000 miles around the Earth's curvature, household radios were tuned in. Today little is left of Little America as the bases, one by one, drifted away on icebergs into the sea.
Antarctica - Some statistics -
There are no permanent residents in Antarctica.
There has never been a native population.
Antarctica is 1.4 times as large as the United States.
Receives about 30,000 summer tourists per year.
58 times bigger than the United Kingdom.
Antarctica has 90% of the world's ice.
Lowest recorded temperature at Vostok Station -128.6 F.
Antarctica is the best place to find meteorites.
If Antarctica's ice sheets melted, all the world's oceans would rise over 200 feet.