Antarctic Exploration Highlights

Date People Involved Countries Represented Event or Notable Happenings
February 1899 Carsten Borchgrevink and crew of the Southern Cross Norway Built huts and became the first to winter over on the continent
Between 1907-1909 Ernest Shackleton Ireland Led Nimrod expedition to the South Pole. Failed (by 180 km) to reach the geographic South Pole. This team became the first to reach the magnetic South Pole and cross the Trans-Antarctic mountain range.
1907 Douglas Mawson England Mawson joined the British Antarctic Expedition led by Shackleton as a geologist. With fellow geologist, Edgeworth David, he was on the first ascent of Mount Erebus, the southernmost active volcano on Earth. He was also part of the team to reach the Magnetic South Pole first.
Between 1910-1912 Roald Amundsen Norway Led the first successful Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole
1912 Robert Falcon Scott England He and his men were second in the race to reach the South Pole. They were beat by one month by Amundsen's group. Unfortunately, Scott and his men perished on their return trip from the South Pole. Because of this, Scott became one of the most famous, and tragic, heroes of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.
Between 1914-1916 Ernest Shackleton Ireland Led famous Endurance expedition intending to cross Antarctica from the Weddell Sea south of the Atlantic, to the Ross Sea south of the Pacific, by way of the Pole. Ice closed in on the ship. Shackleton and five other men managed to cross 800 miles of treacherous seas in a small boat and reach the whaling station on South Georgia island, from where Shackleton organized a rescue operation to bring home the remaining men.
Between 1914-1916 Frank Worsley New Zealand Was with Shackleton and four other men while crossing 800 miles of treacherous seas in a small boat. He is credited with the feat of navigating the tiny boat through waters with 50-foot waves with a sextant and getting the boat to its destination of South Georgia Island.
1922 Apsley Cherry-Garrard England He wrote the book "Worst Journey in the World" which is a memoir of the 1910-1913 British expedition led by Scott to Antarctica. The book has become a classic and is praised for its frank observations of the difficulties faced by the expedition and the causes of its disastrous outcomes. Cherry-Garrard was a member of the expedition.
November 29, 1929 Richard Byrd United States He and three other men flew the Floyd Bennett airplane to the South Pole and back in 18 hours, 41 minutes. This was the first flight to the South Pole.
November 1935 Lincoln Ellsworth USA First to successfully fly across Antarctica
Last modified June 28, 2007 by Jennifer Bergman.

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Exploring the Poles

Polar exploration includes the exploration of the Arctic and the Antarctic. The Arctic is the area around the Earth's north pole. Antarctica is a continent that surrounds the South Pole. When you think...more

The Antarctic Region

What Will You Find There? If you travel to the South Pole, you will find the continent of Antarctica surrounded by the Southern Ocean. The geographic South Pole is marked by a large sign that scientists...more


Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth. It is about one and a half times the size of the United States. Almost all of Antarctica is covered with a thick layer of ice called...more

The Arctic: Earth's North Polar Region

In the Arctic, you will find the Arctic Ocean surrounded by the continents of Europe, Asia, and North America. You will find the geographic North Pole and the magnetic North Pole there; both are in the...more

Polar Bears on Thin Ice

Polar bears live in one of our planetís most extreme environments, the Arctic . They thrive in the freezing cold. But because of global warming, polar bears might be in trouble. Scientists are studying...more

Sea Ice in the Arctic and Antarctic

Sea ice is frozen seawater. It floats on the oceans that are in Earth's polar regions. The salt in the seawater does not freeze. Very salty water gets trapped in the sea ice when it forms. The pockets...more

The Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean is sometimes known as the Antarctic Ocean or South Polar Ocean. It surrounds Antarctica in the South Polar Region. The Southern Ocean is a bit different from other oceans. Other oceans...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA