Origins ANTARCTICA, Scientific Journeys from McMurdo to the Pole
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People in Antarctica

Why would anyone want to go to Antarctica? At best, it’s a cold, barren, inhospitable place; at worst, it can be deadly. Largely untouched by humanity, it’s wild, empty, uncultivated, uncivilized.

In short, it’s a scientist’s dream.

With 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.

Despite its challenges, Antarctica’s unspoiled environment—all 5.4 million square miles of it—offers 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.

Each year, the United States sends only about 600 researchers to Antarctica. Almost 2,000 additional people support life and work there—from 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. (Click here to learn more "Antarctic Slang")

As our expedition unfolds, we'll bring you into the thoughts and experiences of people who've chosen to spend time on The Ice.

Check Your Teeth: As our team learned, there are lots of preparations for a trip to Antarctica.

Women in Antarctica: How long have they been there?

Life on The Ice: A photo gallery.

Getting into Antarctica: Who gets to go, and how do they get there?

Our remote team
Our crew, fully prepared for a trip to Antarctica

Women in Antarctica
Women in Antarctica

Life in Antarctica Photo Gallery
Life on The Ice:
A photo gallery

(photo: NSF)

Getting into Antarctica
How does someone get the chance to go to Antarctica?

 

 
Origins Exploratorium ANTARCTICA

 

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