McMurdo from Space

January 21, 2002


Provided by:
Summary authors & editors: Martin Ruzek;

A finger of land in an ocean of ice at the edge of the world - this 2.44-meter resolution natural color multispectral QuickBird image shows McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The station is located on the snow-free area to the right, and the ice airfield is in the lower left of this image acquired on November 20, 2001.

The largest Antarctic station, McMurdo is built on the bare volcanic rock of Hut Point Peninsula on Ross Island, the southernmost solid ground that is accessible by ship (almost 78 degrees south latitude). The station was established in December 1955. It is the logistics hub of the U.S. Antarctic Program, with a harbor, landing strips on sea ice and shelf ice, and a helicopter pad. Its 85 or so buildings range in size from a small radio shack to large, three-story structures. Repair facilities, dormitories, administrative buildings, a firehouse, power plant, water distillation plant, wharf, stores, clubs, warehouses, and the first class Crary Lab are linked by above-ground water, sewer, telephone, and power lines.

Recorded temperature extremes have been as low as minus 50 degrees Centigrade and as high as plus 8 degrees Centigrade. Annual mean is minus 18 degrees Centigrade; monthly mean temperatures range from minus 3 degrees Centigrade in January to minus 28 degrees Centigrade in August. Peak summer population can exceed 1,100; winter population is about 250 and is isolated from late February to late August. Air transportation to New Zealand is frequent between October and February-the Antarctic summer.

Image courtesy of DigitalGlobe,

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