Last year a box of photographic negatives, that were almost one hundred years old, was found in a room at Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition base at Cape Evans, Antarctica.
Rather than Scott’s team though, the images depict members of Ernest Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, who were tasked with laying supply depots across the Great Ice Barrier, ahead of the Irish born polar explorer’s 1914 to 1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
Thought to have been taken by Arnold Spencer-Smith, who served as the advance group’s photographer, the photos have now been intricately restored, and can be viewed at the Antarctic Heritage Trust website.
What’s almost as intriguing as the journey itself though is the fact that people following the latter day team’s progress across the Antarctic ice are able to read and comment on their exploits, even though they may be up to half a world away, surely something Scott and his contemporaries could never have envisaged.
While some especially adventurous travellers may see Antarctica as a so-called extreme tourism destination, it is certainly no place for the faint of heart:
While I’m personally not prone to anxious thinking, conditions here breed morbid fantasies: ominous fog banks, white-capped waves, freezing, face-shredding winds capable of knocking you off your feet with no warning. In weather like that, your access to medical treatment is limited and beyond your control—and when something like a broken leg could be deadly, thoughts of injury (and improvised surgeries inside a storm-tossed boat) are never far from your mind.
NASA’s IceBridge Mission has been using a number of technologies to create a map of Antarctica’s bedrock, a process that if nothing else, gives those of us not so up on matters geology an idea what the landmass looks like without its ice and snow cover.
Stanford University PhD student Cassandra Brooks recently spent two months sailing through Antarctica’s Ross Sea aboard an ice-breaker. Rarely a dull moment by the looks of it, including even the occasions the vessel was temporarily trapped by the sea ice.
The premise of Ben Affleck’s new thriller Argo (opening in Australian cinemas today, by the way) sees a would be Canadian film crew travel to Iran during the 1979 US Embassy hostage crisis on the pretext of searching out locations for a science fiction movie they are (not) making.
In reality they are using the cover to smuggle six US diplomats – who managed to reach the Canadian ambassador’s residence in Tehran and go into hiding – out of the country.
Few of us are ever likely to visit Antarctica, so looking up Google Street View images may be the only way to experience the southern polar continent. If nothing else, Street View images are candid, thus offering an insight into the real Antarctica.
Wildlife watchers near Aurora Australis’ bridge first thought it was a relaxing seal but it was soon apparent it was rectangular in shape. How it got to such a prominent position, instead of just floating around, is anyone’s guess.