Monday, November 28, 2016

Continents and Explorers

continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. Generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in size to smallest, they are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.

Recorded Explorers

2750 B.C HANNU

First recorded exploring expedition. Hannu is said to have sailed down the Red Sea to explore the southeastern areas of the Arabian peninsula (called Punt), during Egypt's 2nd dynasty. He sailed to what is now part of eastern Ethiopia and Somalia.

6th century B.C. SCYLAX

Scylax of Caryanda was an ancient Greek explorer who explored the Middle East, including the Indus River. He sailed from the city of Caspatyrus (in Pactyica) toward the sea and explored for 30 months. Scylax was sent by the Emperor Darius of Persia (now Iran), who wanted the information in order to expand his empire and conquer India.

114 B.C. Zhang Qian

Zhang Qian was a Chinese explorer who traveled to the steppes of Central Asia during the reign of the Han dynasty Emperor Han Wudi. He was the first person to bring information on this area to China. From this 12-year journey, Zhang Qian was named supreme counselor of the palace by the Emperor. Many years later, the Emperor sent him to visit the Wu-sun people to the northwest of China, another Indo-European tribe living in what is now Russia. His travels, and those of his assistants (who visited Uzbekistan and Afghanistan) opened up Chinese trade and helped begin the Silk Road, an important trade route connecting the east and the west.

486 "Voyage of Brendan"

Saint Brendan, also known as Saint Brendon, Brendan the Bold, and Brendan the Voyager was an Irish abbot, monastery founder, and legendary sea voyager. He sailed in the Atlantic Ocean, traveling to the Hebrides (islands off the west coast of Scotland), Scotland, and perhaps to Wales and Brittany (the northwestern coast of France along the English Channel). He may have also sailed to the Canary Islands (off the northwest coast of Africa), the Azores (islands far off the coast of Portugal), and Iceland.


Eric the Red was a Viking explorer who was the first European to sail to Greenland. He sailed from Iceland in 982 and led a group of colonists to Greenland in 985-986.


One of the sons of the explorer Eric the Red, was possibly the first European to sail to North America. Leif sailed north from the southern tip of Greenland, then went south along the coast of Baffin Island down to Labrador, and then landed in what is now called Newfoundland (which he called Vinland). Ericsson was probably preceded to Vinland by the Icelandic explorer Bjarni Herjulfsson, who spotted the coast of North America when blown off course from Iceland to Greenland (but he did not go ashore).

1271 Marco Polo

Italian voyager and merchant who was one of the first Europeans to travel across Asia through China, visiting the Kublai Khan in Beijing.

1492 Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, hoping to find a route to India (in order to trade for spices). Sailing for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain, Columbus led an expedition with three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria to the Caribbean and South America.

1497 John Cabot

Cabot explored the Canadian coastline and named many of its islands and capes. The mission's purpose was to search for a Northwest passage across North America to Asia (a seaway to Asia).

1497 Vasco da Gama

Portuguese explorer who found a route from Spain to the East. He sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, around Africa's Cape of Good Hope, to India (and back) in 1497-1499. At that time, many people thought that it was impossible to do this since they thought that the Indian Ocean was not connected to any other seas.

1507 Amerigo Vespucci

Ojeda and Vespucci discovered the mouth of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers in South America, thinking it was part of Asia. On his second expedition (sailing for Portugal, 1501-02) he mapped some of the eastern coast of South America, and came to realize that it not part of Asia, but a New World.

1519-1522 Ferdinand Magellan

Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition that sailed around the Earth (1519-1522). Magellan also named the Pacific Ocean.

1768-1779 James Cook

The routes of Captain James Cook's voyages. The first voyage is shown in red, second voyage in green, and third voyage in blue. The route of Cook's crew following his death is shown as a dashed blue line.
Circumnavigated the globe at an extreme southern latitude, becoming one of the first to cross the Antarctic Circle (17 January 1773). In the Antarctic fog, Resolution and Adventure became separated. Furneaux made his way to New Zealand, where he lost some of his men during an encounter with Māori, and eventually sailed back to Britain, while Cook continued to explore the Antarctic, reaching 71°10'S on 31 January 1774.

1841 James Clark Ross

Led an Antarctic expedition (1839-43), commanding the "Erebus" while his friend Francis Crozier commanded the "Terror." [These two ships were lost years later when Franklin's Arctic expedition failed.] Ross charted much of the coastline and in 1841 discovered the Ross Sea, the Victoria Land area of Antarctica, Mount Erebus (a 12,400-foot tall volcano on Antarctica), and Mount Terror (a smaller, nearby, extinct volcano). Ross also discovered the Victoria Barrier, which was later renamed the Ross Ice Shelf. Ross wrote his memoirs, "A Voyage of Discovery and Research in the Southern and Antarctic Regions" (1847). 

1926 Richard Byrd

Byrd (the navigator) and Floyd Bennett (the pilot) made what may have been the first airplane trip over the North Pole, in a 15 1/2 hour flight; they flew from King's Bay, Spitsbergen, Norway, to the North Pole and back again. There is a dispute as to whether or not they actually reached the pole. He also made four Antarctic land expeditions:
  • During the 1928-30 expedition, the base called Little America was built on the Ross Ice Shelf; the nearby Marie Byrd Land was named for Byrd's wife, and on Nov. 29, 1929, Byrd (as navigator) and three others made a 19-hour flight over the South Pole.
  • During the 1933-35 mapping, land-claiming, and scientific expedition, Byrd spent five months isolated at a weather station hut (called Bolling Advance Base) and was rescued after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • During the 1939-41 US government expedition (called the US Antarctic Service Expedition), Byrd discovered Thurston Island.
  • During the huge 1946-47 US government expedition (called Operation Highjump), ship-based and land-based aircraft mapped 537,000 square miles (1,390,000 square km) along the Antarctic coast.
Byrd was also involved with two later Antarctic expeditions. Byrd wrote about his adventures in his books: Skyward (1928), Little America (1930), and Alone (1938).

"...there is left in the world today an area as big as the United States, that's never been seen by human beings, and that's beyond the pole, on the other side of the South pole, from middle America. And I think it's quite astonishing ...."
 Admiral Richard E. Byrd - South Pole Video Interview

Exploring the Unexplored Continent Antarctica

"Consider an area a bit larger than the contiguous United States and Mexico combined, roughly circular, and covered by a dome of ice up to 4 km thick.  There are only about a dozen “cities” (research stations) inhabiting this strange land, nearly all of which are on the coast.  Your task is to map the ice sheet, including ice thickness, internal layering, buried mountain ranges, valleys, scores of lakes, and who knows what else.  And while you’re at it, precisely measure the elevation of the ice surface and also determine what kind of rocks make up the buried landscape.  Your first thought might be satellites, and that’s a good start.  You can map the surface quite well from space.  But getting at the hidden world below is an entirely different story.  So far we don’t have the ability to map through ice on Earth from orbit, even though we can do it on Mars.  You either need to drive all over the surface, which would take a really really long time, or find a way to do it from an airplane."

As of 2015, there are 53 states party to the Antarctic Treaty. The forbidden zone.

2015 Jan. 21st Bill Harrelson Flight

Circumnavigating the Earth North to South. Strong headwinds foiled Harrelson’s plan to fly from an airport in southern Chile, over the South Pole, and on to a planned stop in Hamilton, New Zealand. Harrelson reached the South Pole, but was forced to retreat to the departure point in Punta Arenas, Chile, and ponder other routes.
World Record Pending

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