100 years--and counting--at the South Pole (photos)

A century after explorer Roald Amundsen arrived there, the South Pole is a hub for scientific exploration.


Charles Cooper

See full bio
1 of 23 Olav Bjaaland./ Wikipedia


Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of explorer Roald Amundsen becoming the first to reach the South Pole. In this image Amundsen, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel and Oscar Wisting (left to right) are pictured at "Polheim," the tent erected at the South Pole on December 16, 1911. The top flag is the Flag of Norway; the bottom is marked "Fram."
Amundsen disappeared aboard a French Latham 47 flying boat in the Barents Sea on June 18, 1928. The plane had been searching for the gas-filled airship "Italia," which crashed when returning from the North Pole during an expedition led by Italian aeronautical engineer Umberto Nobile.

2 of 23 Wikipedia

Framheim base

The base at Framheim, February 1911.
3 of 23 U.S. Navy NAVFAC Archives

Ice sheet two miles thick

Over the decades, scientists and support personnel have conducted research at the South Pole on myriad projects. But the conditions are anything but balmy as evidenced by this 1960 photo. The ice sheet below South Pole is nearly two miles thick.
4 of 23 Dick Prescott National Science Foundation

Dropping lumber

A C-124 Cargo plane airdrops lumber to U.S. Navy Seabees at the South Pole, December 1956 as they went about the construction of a research station.
5 of 23 Dick Prescott, National Science Foundation

First permanent station

A December 4, 1956 aerial view of the first permanent station at the South Pole.
6 of 23 Dave Grisez, National Science Foundation

First plane to land

This C-47 was the first airplane to land at the South Pole on October 31, 1956.
7 of 23 U.S. Navy, National Science Foundation

Navy Seabees

Group shot of the U.S. Navy Seabees who built the first South Pole station. Work was completed in late December 1956.
8 of 23 Keith Vanderlinde, National Science Foundation

South Pole Telescope

Today the South Pole Telescope collects data on cosmic microwave background radiation and black matter.
9 of 23 Ann Hawthorne, National Science Foundation

Martin Pomerantz

The South Pole offers six months of constant sunlight for studying the sun. This 1985 image shows researcher Martin Pomerantz at the Pole.
10 of 23 Calee Allen, National Science Foundation

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Weather balloons launched at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The base was named in honor of two explorers. Norwegian Roald Amundsen led the first successful expedition to the South Pole 100 years ago. The other half of the base's name was in memory of British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, who lost the race against Amundsen and arrived at the South Pole more than month later, only to find Amundsen's tent, a Norwegian flag and a letter from Amundsen. Scott and four companions died on the way out.
11 of 23 National Science Foundation

Dome of South Pole Station

Dome of the South Pole Station, which was completed in 1975.
12 of 23 U.S. Navy

Geodisc dome

1993 overhead shot of the geodisc dome and support tunnels at the South Pole Station.
13 of 23 Peter West, National Science Foundation

Dome entrance

The entrance to the dome filled up with snow and ice accumulation, as demonstrated in this 1975 photo. It ultimately required the digging of an access tunnel.
14 of 23 Patrick Hovey, National Science Foundation

Jamesway huts

Korean War vintage Jamesway huts.
15 of 23 J. Dana Hrubes, Space Sciences Laboratory, South Pole Station

Remembering Reagan

U.S. flag, backlit by Southern Lights, flies at half staff in June 2004 in memory of former President Ronald Reagan. The flag was also lowered after the 9/11 terror attacks and the Space Shuttle Columbia loss in 2003.
16 of 23 Peter West, National Science Foundation

Rec room

No longer any need for roughing it. A look at the base recreation room.
17 of 23 Scott Jackson, National Science Foundation

All alone

Isolation of the U.S. South Pole Station. The nearest human habitation is McMurdo Station on Ross Island, about 900 miles away.
18 of 23 Glenn Grant, National Science Foundation

2008 ceremony

2008 ceremony including the 12 original signatory nations of the Antarctic Treaty.
19 of 23 Chris Danals, National Science Foundation

Antarctic night

July 2005 image taken during the 6-month-long Antarctic night.
20 of 23 cot Jackson, National Science Foundation

New South Pole Station

Aerial photo taken in 2005 of new South Pole Station. The older station is at lower left
21 of 23 D.A. Harper Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica

Infrared Explorer

South Pole Infrared Explorer was used to probe areas where new stars form by recording their infrared emissions.
22 of 23 NOAA

Atmospheric Research Observatory

Atmospheric Research Observatory tracks changes in the Earth's atmosphere.
23 of 23 National Science Foundation/USAP

Tumbleweed rover

Tumbleweed rover is an experimental device designed to land on other planets. In 2004 tests, it has traveled more than 40 miles around the pole.

More Galleries

2022's Best TV Shows You Can't Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More
John Cena attends Warner Bros. premiere of The Suicide Squad, in costume as Peacemaker.

2022's Best TV Shows You Can't Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More

95 Photos
Movies Coming in 2022 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

Movies Coming in 2022 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

85 Photos
The Best Games on Nintendo Switch in 2022

The Best Games on Nintendo Switch in 2022

36 Photos
The 51 Best VR Games

The 51 Best VR Games

53 Photos
2023 Toyota Crown Is One Funky Hybrid Sedan
2023 Toyota Crown

2023 Toyota Crown Is One Funky Hybrid Sedan

48 Photos
24 things you should never, ever google

24 things you should never, ever google

25 Photos
DIY scratched screen repair: Magic and myths

DIY scratched screen repair: Magic and myths

10 Photos