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Location & Culture
1773
  • Captain James Cook became the first person to cross the Antarctic Circle.
1819
  • British mariner William Smith discovered the South Shetland Islands.
1819-1823
  • James Wendell captained two sealing expeditions where he discovered a new species of seal and reached a record latitude of 74° 15' S.
1820
  • The Antarctic continent was first seen by human eyes. Historians have disagreed on who those eyes belonged to; at least one possible claimant is believed to have seen land but mistaken it for ice at the time. Credit for being the first man to see the continent has been divided between three men who made separate voyages to Antarctica that year:
  • Fabian von Bellingshausen, a captain in the Russian Imperial Navy;
  • Edward Bransfield, a captain in the British navy;
  • Nathaniel Brown Palmer, an American sealer.
1840
  • Frenchman ules-Sébastien-César Dumont d'Urville became the first person to set foot on Antarctica. (Some historians believe that John Davis, an American sealer, may have set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula in 1821, but even he was unsure if he landed on the continent itself or a nearby island.)
1841
  • James Clark Ross discovered what is now known as Ross Island. He also sailed along a huge wall of ice that was later named the Ross Ice Shelf.
1897
  • A ship headed by Adrien Victor Joseph de Gerlache de Gomery was stuck in the Antarctic ice and was forced to stay the entire winter. De Gerlache also brought back the first photographs of the continent.
1898
  • A British-funded expedition headed by Carsten Egeberg Borchgrevink was the first to set up a base in Antarctica.
1901-1904
  • The Briton Capt. Robert Falcon Scott led the National Antarctic Expedition, often referred to as the "Discovery expedition." Many important geographical and scientific discoveries were made on this trip.
1901-1904
  • The Briton Capt. Robert Falcon Scott led the National Antarctic Expedition, often referred to as the "Discovery expedition." Many important geographical and scientific discoveries were made on this trip.
1907-1909
  • Ernest H. Shackleton led an expedition that set up camp on Cape Royds. Shackleton and members of his crew were the first to reach the south magnetic pole.
1911
  • Norwegian Roald Gravning Amundsen and his party reached the South Pole.
1912
  • Capt. Scott and members of his crew died on a trip to the South Pole.
1914
  • Shackleton attempted to cross the "South Polar continent from sea to sea." Although the attempt failed after his ship, the Endurance, was trapped and crushed in the Wendell Sea, no lives was lost.
1928
  • The first airplane flight was made by Sir George Hubert Wilkins.
1929
  • Richard E. Byrd made the first flights over the South Pole.
1945-1957
  • The U.S. Navy conducted Operation Highjump, the largest expedition ever sent to Antarctica.
1956
  • The first winter was spent at McMurdo station.
1957-1958
  • The International Geophysical Year (IGY) brought together scientific activities of 67 countries.
1959
  • The Antarctic Treaty was signed on Dec. 1, establishing the legal framework for the management of Antarctica.
1963
  • The Antarctic Treaty was entered into force on June 23.
1991
  • Twenty-four countries signed an agreement that barred exploration of Antarctica for oil or mineral deposits for 50 years.
2006
  • Fifteen competitors in The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2006 completed the first ever 100 mile race on Esperenza, Antarctica. The competitors went on to complete 250 kilometers in three locations including Esperenza, Deception Island and King George Island.
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