Photo of Roald Amundsen
Click on image for full size
Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian polar explorer who is famous for leading the first successful expedition to the South Pole in 1910-1912. Amundsen was born in 1872 in Borge, Norway. His parents wanted him to study medicine, but he soon dropped out to go to sea, following his lifelong dream of exploration.
Amundsen took part in his first polar expedition, the Belgian Antarctic Expedition, in 1897–1899. It was the first expedition to endure winter in Antarctica. In 1903, Amundsen led the first expedition to successfully traverse the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, something explorers had been attempting since the days of Christopher Columbus. During this time Amundsen learned Arctic survival skills from the local people. From them, for example, he learned to use sled dogs.
Amundsen planned to reach the North Pole next, but when he heard that Frederick Cook and Robert Peary reached the pole, he secretly changed his plans. Amundsen set out for Antarctica in 1910 on board the ship Fram previously used by Fridtjof Nansen. The expedition spent the winter in the base camp preparing supplies and equipment.
The first attempt to reach the pole failed, but finally on December 14, 1911, the team consisting of Amundsen and four other men, helped by 16 dogs, reached the South Pole, 35 days before Scott's group. The reasons for Amundsen's success and for Scott's failure in returning from the South Pole have always been the subject of discussion and controversy.
In his later years Amundsen continued exploring the Arctic by ship and plane. In 1926, Amundsen, took part in the first crossing of the Arctic in the airship Norge designed by Italian aeronautical engineer Umberto Nobile. Amundsen disappeared on June 18, 1928, while flying on a rescue mission looking for missing members of Nobile's crew, whose new airship had crashed while returning from the North Pole.
Amundsen received numerous awards, including Congressional Gold Medal. Several land features in the Arctic and the Antarctic are named after him, as well as a crater on the Moon.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, ranging from evolution
, classroom research
, and the need for science and math literacy
You might also be interested in:
How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable....more
Location The polar regions are the areas that surround Earth’s geographic North and South Poles. The area surrounding the geographic North Pole is called the Arctic and includes almost the entire Arctic...more
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was one of the famous explorers in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. He was of English-Irish ancestry and was born in Ballitore, Ireland on February 15, 1874. Like Amundsen,...more
Florence Bascom (1862-1945) was one of the first female geologists in the United States and her colleagues regarded her as one of the nation’s most important geologists. In 1896 she was the first woman...more
Niels Bohr was a Danish physicist who lived between 1885-1962. He investigated atomic structure, modifying Rutherford's old model of an atom by confining electrons to orbits of specific radii. Bohr also...more
Marie Curie was a physicist and chemist who lived between 1867-1934. She contributed greatly to our understanding of radioactivity and the effects of x-rays. She was born Maria Skłodowska in Warsaw,...more
Albert Einstein was a German physicist who lived between 1879-1955. His special and general theories of relativity, theory of Brownian motion, work in quantum physics, statistical mechanics, and on the...more
Robert Goddard was an American physicist who lived between 1882-1945. He was a pioneer of modern rocketry who discovered that liquid fuel is more efficient than solid fuel. Although Goddard's first rocket...more