Antarctica is a large but still poorly explored continent located in the south of the globe. The first hypothesis about its existence mentions in the Ptolemy’s writings in the 1st century AD. However, until 1911, researchers and discoverers did not manage to reach the South Pole. Lots of secrets are hidden under the thick ice, among the snow and cold winds. Some of them are partly solved, and many still remain hidden from scientists and all of humanity. Consider several famous expeditions that were made to Antarctica. Some of them were carried out with a scientific purpose; others took place only as a result of idle interest and a desire to visit new lands. Moreover, some expeditions had religious purposes.
A number of countries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries made scientific expeditions to the lands of Antarctica. Germany did not stand aside and took an active part in this research activity. The very first German Antarctic expedition took place between 1901 and 1903. It was led by Erich von Drygalski, a researcher and geologist. It was the first team of scientists to use atmospheric probes filled with hot air vapor in Antarctica.
Wilhelm Filchner led the second German expedition (1911-1912). Its purpose was to clarify the exact geographical boundaries of Antarctica. Scientists wanted to understand whether Antarctica is a continuous continent or a group of islands. The expedition was not fully realized, but scientists managed to name the Filchner glacier and the Luitpold coast.
The Tabarin operation
The Tabarin operation occupies the next place in our ranking of famous expeditions. It was initiated by the British government, which sent a group of scientists to Antarctica. The purpose of the trip was to observe the whaling fleets. British scientists have successfully spent two winters in Antarctica.
The mysterious expedition of Richard Birds (the HighJump operation)
Admiral Richard Byrd led the HighJump operation in 1946-1947. It involved 33 aircraft and 13 ships of the US Navy. The purpose of the expedition was to teach how to work in eternal ice conditions and ensure a stable presence of the Americans on the Antarctica lands. Later there were rumors that the real purpose of this expedition was to eliminate a previously established Nazi base there. Admiral Richard Birds kept an on-board diary, the contents of which remained classified for a long time. It is still unclear whether this was a rumor or true information, but Birds talked about a meeting with new civilization representatives. The admiral argued that those people had mastered new types of energy, allowing them to generate electricity, start vehicles’ engines, and even get food. After a very strange and not very plausible report in Washington, Richard was ordered not to expand on it. Researchers report that after Birds returned, all of his expedition diaries and journals were confiscated and classified. The whereabouts of the latter are unknown to this day.
The expedition led by Prince Harry
Later, in 2013, Prince Harry led another expedition to the South Pole. This trip did not pursue serious research goals. It was planned as an entertaining hike across an outlandish continent. However, the expedition ended with 12 injured members accompanying Harry.
Expedition of Patriarch Kirill
In February 2016, Cuba hosted the first meeting (since the Great Schism) between the head of the Roman Catholic Pope Francis and the Eastern Orthodox churches, Patriarch Kirill. A couple of days after the meeting, the press announced that Patriarch Kirill had joined the expedition team for the trip to the South Pole. The team proceeded to the mainland on the Admiral Vladimirsky naval vessel. As Patriarch Kirill himself said, the primary purpose of his trip to Antarctica was the opportunity to visit a small wooden Orthodox temple (Troitsky Orthodox Church), built on the icy continent a couple of decades ago.
Tom Hanks expedition
Famous American actor Tom Hanks also showed interest towards the mainland and the tiny church, set amid the eternal ice. The actor converted to Orthodoxy, and in February 2016, as part of an expedition, visited Antarctica and demonstrated particular interest towards the Troitsky Orthodox Church. The trip took place before his marriage to Rita Walson.
New Zealand Defense Minister’s visit to Antarctica
In February 2017, Ron Mark, New Zealand’s Minister of Defense, set foot on Antarctica. Despite the decent remoteness of New Zealand from Antarctica, its government plays a significant role in the events unfolding on this continent. New Zealand representatives permanently present on the mainland, protecting personnel at Scott Base and McMurdo Station.
The mysterious Antarctica land till this day attracts travelers, scientists, rulers of different countries to learn all its secrets. Expeditions here continue, and who knows what other secrets are kept in these unexplored lands?