National Geographic : 1956 Feb
U.S.S.R ., the Scandinavian countries, and France plan further Arctic programs. The most spectacular polar projects, how ever, are those of the all-out, many-nation attack on the Antarctic Continent, with its 16,000 miles of little-known coastline. Eleven governments-Argentina, Australia. Chile, France. Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Norway. Union of South Africa, the U.S.S.R., and the United States-have plans for bases on Antarctica or its offshore is lands. These listening posts will place a scientific stethoscope against the cold heart of a con tinental mass comprising 5,050.000 square miles and averaging 6,000 feet above sea level, most of it thickly cloaked in ice. The 30 or so bases will pretty evenly stud the periphery of Antarctica. France. Great Britain, the U.S.S.R., the United States, and possibly others plan also to build stations at widely separated points inland. The United States will establish its remotest outpost at or near the South Pole. The U.S.S.R. projects one interior base near the so-called "pole of inaccessibility." the central area of the Europe-size region in Antarctica's African quadrant which has never been explored. The Soviets may establish another camp at the geomagnetic pole. about 800 miles from the geographical pole (map, page 288). British Plan Cross-continent Trek Several nations expect to traverse the cold interior of Antarctica: the South Pole is an intended way-stop of three or four of these parties. The Trans-Antarctic British ('Com monwealth Expedition will undertake a trek by snow vehicle from Duke Ernst (Vahsel) Bay on the Weddell Sea by way of the South Pole to a New Zealand base at McMurdo Sound. The New Zealand team. led by Sir Edmund Hillary. Everest conqueror, will es tablish a chain of depots toward the Pole to support the British on the final leg of their traverse. This party, and others, will plumb the depth of the Antarctic ice sheet by echoes from explosive charges. The United States already has launched the lead-off venture on perhaps the most ex tensive Antarctic program of any country. Briefly, the United States plans six Ant arctic observatories-one at McMurdo Sound, another at Little America near Kainan Bay. and two inland stations, the first at latitude 80° S. and longitude 120 W. in Marie Byrd Land (Byrd Station), and the second at the 297 ' it, er' K t ' A Solar Prominence Rakes Space This glowing tilament shot out from the sun 2S0,000 miles; the observed record is 1,000,000 miles. Speed is as great as 450 miles a second. Motion pictures reveal these clouds of gas sweeping out from the sun and cascading back in graceful arches; fragments appear to float out into space. Electromagnetic forces are generally believed the cause. Bright area at the base of the prominence is the chromosphere, an incan descent laver of als six to ten thousand miles thick. As if eclipsed by the moon, the sun's disk is blacked out by a device fitted over the telescope.