would anyone want to go to Antarctica? At best, its
a cold, barren, inhospitable place; at worst, it can be deadly.
Largely untouched by humanity, its wild, empty, uncultivated,
short, its a scientists dream.
few people digging up the ground, spewing out waste, and flooding
the landscape with light, heat, and wayward electromagnetic
signals, researchers can gently study an environment so rare
it more closely resembles Mars than other places on Earth.
its challenges, Antarcticas unspoiled environmentall
5.4 million square miles of itoffers a variety of scientific
treasures. American researchers of every discipline vie for
the few coveted positions available at McMurdo Station, the
U.S. outpost there. At McMurdo, scientists can study exotic
microbes that live in extreme cold, watch a sky unsullied
by light pollution, capture evidence of the creation of rare
subatomic particles, or examine layers of pristine ice tens
of thousands of years old.
year, the United States sends only about 600 researchers to
Antarctica. Almost 2,000 additional people support life and
work therefrom cooks and drivers to engineers, project
managers, and maintenance and construction workers. The scientists
(known as "beakers") and support staff ("grunts")
form a quirky microculture that is itself worthy of study.
here to learn more "Antarctic Slang")
our expedition unfolds, we'll bring you into the thoughts
and experiences of people who've chosen to spend time on The
Your Teeth: As our team learned, there are
lots of preparations for a trip to Antarctica.
How long have they been there?
on The Ice: A photo gallery.
into Antarctica: Who gets to go, and how do they get