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Introducing Mystery Class #8
McMurdo, Antarctica 77.850 S, 166.700 E

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Greetings from Mystery Class #8, located at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

The staff at McMurdo Station supports the National Science Foundation in their effort to provide scientific information to the world regarding animal life, studies of the ozone layer, and various other scientific studies.

McMurdo is located on Ross Island, which is actually 65 miles from Antarctica, and 785 miles from the South Pole. Antarctica is not owned by any nation; rather, different countries "claim" unique areas of the continent.

The climate is one of the driest in the world. Although there is plenty of snow here, this location actually is on a desert. There are several animals here that you may only get to see in a zoo. Down here, you could walk to the sea ice and see Weddell Seals, Emperor and Adeli Penguins, and Orca Whales. One of the oldest fish on earth also makes its home here--the Antarctic Cod.

From a Camp to a Station
Scott's Hut

People have been at this location since 1929. Over the years the town here has grown from a small camp to a large base (or station). The first Building that appeared here was in 1909. How can this be true, since we said that people have been here since 1929?

The first building was built by Admiral Scott, who was a famous explorer in Antarctica. 'Scott's Hut' was built as stop-off point for him and his crew when they were exploring this area of the world. Since his famous exploration, the United States Navy revitalized the area and built new buildings overlooking the old one that Scott built. This new place was called McMurdo.

Polar Melting Pot

There are many different nationalities in Antarctica (ranging from Norwegians, Russians, Chileans, French, German, and many others). However, there are only two here on Ross Island--U.S. citizens and New Zealanders. The different nations perform different scientific experiments and yet are all working together in some way. All the information will in some way help Scientists learn more about the Earth and the galaxies beyond. This will maybe help you someday when you want to explore beyond your own backyard.

The air here is so clean that at the South Pole they have the lowest pollution content in the world. Also at the South Pole, they are in the process of building a new station. This will take close to 5 years to complete. The reason they need to do this is because the current station or 'Dome' is getting crushed and moved every year from the deep snow surrounding it. They hope to continue doing research here well into the next century.

McMurdo is the largest Station on Antarctica, and is more than 10 times larger than the South Pole station. All the supplies that are needed by the United States research camps, South Pole and all the other places here on this continent have to come through here.

Spring and Summer in Antarctica
The first sunrise

During the summer months here, as you already know, the sun shines continually. After months of darkness, the first sunrise of spring at the South Pole is a welcome sight!

The spring here comes as autumn begins in Earth's northern hemisphere, and it's the dawn of a new day in Antarctica. For a small band of scientists andtechnicians who wintered over at the south pole, it's time for supply drops, mail, and fresh fruit. Outside the temperature begins to climb from a frigid -70 deg. C to -25 degrees. Spring is in the air. What triggers this south pole revolution? It's called the autumnal equinox.

When a supply ship arrives, the "off loading" is really something to see. Everyone in town works around the clock to get the ship empty and then put all the junk we're sending back on to the ship. It moves fast because everyday in port is costing the company umpteen thousand dollars.

McMurdo is very busy during the austral summer, with a population of up to 1500. This is the time when most scientific research is completed.

We Have Emperors Here

Every year in spring here, thousands of penguins rejoice to see the sun peep above the horizon in Antarctica. The return of the sun after 6 long months of chilly darkness means spring has arrived.For penguins it's time to shed a few pounds of blubber, find a mate, and bask in the sunshine for the next 6 months.

Long, Dark Winter

Right now, however, winter is upon us and the population is only 202. All the military population and most scientists have gone home for the year, and a smaller staff is left to run the station during the cold, dark, winter months. During this time,there are several types of recreational outlets to keep us busy:

  • A Fire Department- just in case,
  • A Store- you do need toothpaste even here,
  • Clubs with a burger bar- to get out of the room you stay in,
  • A bowling alley
  • Bingo once a month
  • A video store--like Blockbuster!

Well, now you know that people actually live and work in Antarctica!
Maybe you'd like to visit sometime!

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