Terra Australis Incognita|
In ancient times, the concept of a landmass to the south was thought of by the Greeks.
The Greek Philosophers theorized that the Earth was a sphere.
Their ideas of the balance of the Earth led them to the idea of a body of land at the southern end of the Earth.
The notion of this landmass was called Terra Australis Incognita, meaning "Unknown Southern Land."
Even though there is a North Pole as well, the idea of a South Pole was a far more intriguing concept.
The Courageous Explorers
During the early years, most expeditions to Antarctica were related to economic motives.
Explorers were searching for new trading routes.
Traders and hunters wanted to hunt seals for their fur, and yet other people went to Antarctic to seek mineral riches.
Beginning with Captain James Cook in 1773, the Resolution and the Adventure were the first crews to ever cross the Antarctic Circle.
During the early 1820's, Thaddeus von Bellingshausen of Russia claimed the first recorded viewing of an icefield at 69 degrees south latitude, and proclaimed that he was the first person to sight Antarctica.
In that same year, Edward Bransfield, Nathaniel Palmer, and Smith, also claimed that they sighted Antarctica first.
Some years later the HMS Challenger was the first steamship to cross the Antarctic Circle.
It crossed the circle on a four-year scientific cruise of the world.
In 1895, three explorers named Bull, Borchgrevink, and Kristensen became the first people to actually set foot on the Antarctic continent.
In 1898, Adrien de Gerlache led the Belgica Expedition that got stuck on the Antarctic Peninsula, in the ice, and became the first expedition to survive the Antarctic winter.
In 1902, Ernest Shackleton, Robert Scott, and Edward Wilson made the first serious attempt to reach Antarctica, but they were forced to turn back at 82 degrees south latitude.
Two years later, Robert Scott led the British National Expedition, and Ernest Shackleton, Wild, and Bernacchi helped Robert Scott in setting up a base on Ross Island.
Beginning in 1907, from Ross Island, Ernest Shackleton located the South Magnetic Pole.
Three years later, the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen declared that he was heading for Antarctica, and in that same year, Robert Scott began his third expedition to find the true South Pole.
In 1911, Roald Amundsen and four other explorers, along with 18 dogs discovered a new route to the South Pole, going through the polar plateau, and put a Norwegian flag in the ground on the 14 of December.
He also left a letter for Robert Scott, that he had found the South Pole first.
A month later, in January 17, 1912, Robert Scott, Edward Wilson, "Birdie" Bowers, Edgar Evans, and Lawrence Oates finally found the South Pole and saw the Norwegian flag flying.
They never returned to the base and were presumed dead.
In 1922, at age 48, Ernest Shackleton died from a heart attack while on board the Quest, becoming his final expedition to Antarctica.
In 1928, the Wilkins' Expedition made the first recorded flight in Antarctica.
One year later, Richard Byrd and three others took off in a Ford Monoplane from a base at the Bay of Whales and headed for the South Pole.
They became the first people to fly over one of the Poles in an airplane.
In 1934, Richard Byrd began his quest to travel 123 miles inland from the Bay of Whales.
He became the first person to survive the winter in the center of Antarctica, but almost died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Six years later, Richard Byrd established Little America III base at the Bay of Whales.
In 1947, the U.S. Navy organized "Operation Highjump" bringing 4,000 men, 13 ships and 3 aircrafts to Antarctica.
Large areas of Antarctic Coastline were mapped with 70,000 aerial photographs.
It was decommissioned in 1972.
In 1965, Antarctic tourism begins to boom.
Lars-Eric Lindblad chartered annual luxury cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula.
In 1977, Quantas Airlines started daily flights over Antarctica.
In 1990, the International Trans-Antarctica Expedition led by U.S. Explorer William Steger crossed Antarctica.