24 November, 1999
The final historical hut of the "Heroic Age" of Antarctic exploration I want to show you is the one constructed by Robert Scott's expedition in 1902. I hope you have realized that I have not shown you these huts in chronological order, but in order by their decreasing distance from McMurdo Station. Scott's Discovery Hut is located just across the harbor from Mactown. It is a short walk around the harbor basin to Hut Point. Because of it's location so near to McMurdo, it is the most visited and probably the most scrounged by visitors of any of the historic huts.
Scott led the National Antarctic Expedition aboard the ship Discovery leaving England in August 1901. They arrived at McMurdo Sound and erected the prefabricated hut in February of 1902. The site, on a rather windy, exposed point, was probably selected because of its proximity to a deep-water harbor in McMurdo Sound. The hut was of a design used in the outback of Australia and not parcticularly suited for the Antarctic. In fact, Scott's party actually stayed aboard the Discovery, frozen in the sea ice, and used the hut only for storage, scientific work and social gatherings including the "The Royal Terror Theatre" (Hey, it was a long winter!) During the Discovery Expedition Scott made his first attempt at the South Pole. Accompanied by Ernest Shackleton and Edward Wilson, he got as far south as 82 degrees latitude before having to turn back. Upon returning to Hut Point, most of the party spent another winter (Shackleton, among others returned.) before returning to England in the spring of 1904.
The Discovery Hut was used several times by subsequent expeditions including Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition and the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which lead to Shackleton's saga aboard the Endurance.
As you approach the hut, it looks quite handsome with its symmetrical roof silhouetted against the Transantarctic Mountains in the distance. Snow has blown under the over hangs. There is a deteriorated seal carcass outside the hut. Hut Point is a pleasant destination to walk to and sit, although it is often quite windy. Weddell seals are often seen resting on the ice near the crack that extends out from Hut Point. Discovery Hut, like the other historic huts I have described is maintained by the Antarctic Heritage Trust. For more information about the AHT and the preservation work being done in Antarctica see this website: http://www.heritage-antarctica.org/ahtnz/sites/index.htm.
I want to talk about a couple of the projects that we have going on right now. First, the evaporation experiment. I have been running mine for about 140 hours. Here are some preliminary data. I have listed the average depth of the water in the pan and the time from the start of the experiment.
Time (hours) Depth (mm)
Try graphing this information. See if you can predict when the water in the pan will be all evaporated. How do the results compare to yours so far?
Also, I have not received very many names for my penguin. I don't want to leave the ice with an unnamed penguin. Put on your thinking caps and send me your name suggestions. I will take ideas until the end of next week.
I will write a journal on 11/25 (Thanksgiving) but will not the next two days (11/26 & 11/27). On Sunday, 11/28, I will tell you all about Thanksgiving in Antarctica.
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