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Recent Scenes From Antarctica

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Winter is coming back to Antarctica and, after a busy season for both scientists and tourists, most researchers stationed there have traveled north for the season. Among them were a Russian team that recently came within 30 meters of drilling into Lake Vostok -- a subglacial lake some 4,000 meters below the surface of the ice -- and the crew of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, who have been burying a massive array of detectors deep in the ice. (They placed their final detector in December.) Gathered here are recent images of Antarctica, its environment, and some of the scientific work taking place there. [47 photos]

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The aurora australis provides a dramatic backdrop to a Scott Tent at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on July 14, 2009. (National Science Foundation/Patrick Cullis)
The aurora australis provides a dramatic backdrop to a Scott Tent at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on July 14, 2009. (National Science Foundation/Patrick Cullis)
A large iceberg floats off the coast of Antarctica, seen on January 1st, 2010. Original here. (Ben Stephenson / CC BY) #
The Koru Memorial site at Scott Base on February 15, 2011 in Antarctica. The New Zealand government flew family members of the victims of the Mount Erebus tragedy to Scott Base to remember those who lost thier lives. 257 passengers and crew were killed on November 28, 1979 when an Air New Zealand Antarctic sightseeing flight collided with Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica. (Ross Land/NZPA-Pool/Getty Images) #
The Matusevich Glacier flows toward the coast of East Antarctica, pushing through a channel between the Lazarev Mountains and the northwestern tip of the Wilson Hills. Each of the smaller blocks measure nearly one kilometer across. After passing through the channel, the glacier has room to spread out as it floats on the ocean. On September 6, 2010, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-color image. (NASA Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon) #
South Pole 'fuelie' Rose Meyer gets pretty cold when performing her job fueling airplanes at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on October 26, 2010. The warmest temperature recorded that week at Pole was -37.1C (-34.8F) and the coldest temperature was -50.2C (-58.4F). (National Science Foundation/Kristina 'Kricket' Scheerer) #
An aerial view of the Dome at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, seen on February 5, 2009. The red building in the bottom center is the old Skylab physical science building. (National Science Foundation/Henry Malmgren) #
Three US Antarctic Program participants stand under the geodesic dome at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station shortly before the dome was dismantled, to be replaced by a more modern structure.. Photo taken on December 5, 2009. (National Science Foundation/Doug Bell) #
Nacreous Clouds over the NASA Radome (a weatherproof structure housing a 10 meter antenna inside). Nacreous clouds (or Polar stratospheric clouds) form high in the dry stratosphere, catching sunlight well after dusk, displaying brilliant colors. Original here. (Alan R. Light / CC BY) #
A leopard seal captures a Gentoo penguin near Palmer Station, Antarctica on April 4th, 2009. (National Science Foundation/Sean Bonnette) #
An enormous iceberg, right, breaks off the Knox Coast in the Australian Antarctic Territory on Jan. 11, 2008. (AP Photo/Torsten Blackwood) #
A 20-minute exposure reveals the southern celestial axis above the new elevated station at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on July 21, 2009. At the poles, scientists can study a fixed point in the sky for months and years, whereas in the middle latitutes the stars 'move' across the night sky. The white cloudy streak is the Milky Way. (National Science Foundation/Patrick Cullis) #
A silhouette of the IceCube neutrino detector facility at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, sen on April 2nd, 2008. There are 2 towers, east and west for receiving cables from the large matrix of detectors buried in the ice below. (National Science Foundation/Keith Vanderlinde) #
Construction of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory takes place as a Firn Drill is lowered into the Antarctic ice. The Firn Drill melts its way through an upper layer of compacted snow (approximately 50 meters thick) to the solid Antarctic ice below - when another, enhanced hot water drill takes over to drill 2,500 meters further down. (National Science Foundation)#
The last Digital Optical Module (DOM) deployed in the IceCube array. This is the last of the 5,160 DOMs deployed on 86 different "strings", suspended in ice some 1,400 meters below the surface, forming an array of neutrino detectors occupying one cubic kilometer. (National Science Foundation/R. Schwarz)* #
A Digital Optical Module (DOM) is lowered into a 2,500 meter-deep hole in the ice on January 4th, 2006, part of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. (National Science Foundation/Mark Krasberg)* #
Gentoo penguins squabble in their colony in Antarctica on November 24th, 2010. Photographed as part of a fundraiser/trip titled the Penguin Project. Original here. (pinguino k / CC BY) #
A series of parallel valleys lie between the Ross Sea and the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, known as the Dry Valleys. They are swept free of snow by nearly relentless katabatic winds -cold, dry air that rolls downhill toward the sea from the high altitudes of the ice sheet. In the center is frozen Lake Fryxell, near Canada Glacier, to the left. Image acquired November, 2000. (NASA/Jesse Allen, NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team) #
A SCUBA diver under the McMurdo Sound sea ice on December 6, 2006. (National Science Foundation/Henry Kaiser) #
In this handout photo taken Friday, Feb. 5, 2010 and provided by Antarctic Heritage Trust Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, Crates of Scotch whisky and two of brandy are seen after they have been recovered by a team restoring an Antarctic hut used more than 100 years ago by famed polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. (AP Photo/Antarctic Heritage Trust) #
Heavy equipment operators work to clear snow and smooth the annual sea ice near McMurdo Station, creating a landing strip in this photo taken September 24, 2009. The first C-17 jet of the austral summer landed on this runway with passengers and cargo on September 29, kicking off another season of scientific research for the US Antarctic Program. (National Science Foundation/Lori Gravelle) #
Inside an ice cave near Ross Island on November 25, 2008. (National Science Foundation/Robyn Waserman) #
Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) field team member Anna Bramucci throws hot water into the air to watch it turn to ice crystals and vapor on a -25 F (-32 C) day at Lake Fryxell field camp in Taylor Valley, Victoria Land on March 30, 2008. (National Science Foundation/Chris Kannen) #
Raised footprints in the Antarctic snow. After a storm, the loose snow surrounding the compacted snow under a footprint is scoured away by the wind, leaving an elevated strange-looking footprints. Original here. (Alan R. Light / CC BY) #
An orca whale breaks the surface of the water in McMurdo Sound on January 21, 2007. (National Science Foundation/Peter Rejcek) #
Adelie penguins along the ice edge in the Ross Sea, seen on January 12, 2010. (National Science Foundation/Robyn Waserman) #
In this photo taken on Feb. 9, 2011 and released by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Japanese whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru approaches Sea Shepherd's high-speed trimaran Gojira while using water cannons during their encounter in Southern Ocean, Antarctica. Japan has temporarily suspended its annual Antarctic whaling after repeated harassment by the conservationist group, a government official said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Sea Shepherd, Simon Ager) #
Aerial photo of McMurdo Station on February 7th, 2011. The Swedish icebreaker ODEN is at the ice pier on the left. The blue building at the center of the photo is Building 155 which has the cafeteria, barbershop, store, several offices and some dormitory rooms. The brown buildings to the left of it are dormitories. Most of the rest of the buildings are work centers or storage areas. (National Science Foundation/Curtis Harry) #
The moon setting behind Bonaparte Point, Anvers Island on September 2, 2009. (National Science Foundation/Ken Keenan) #
McMurdo Station as seen in the darkness of winter, on May 6, 2009. About 150 people spend the seven months of winter isolation at McMurdo, mostly doing maintenance repairs and preparing the station for the busy austral summer season which begins in October. The sun went down in late April and did not rise again until August. (National Science Foundation/James Walker) #
Adelies at Cape Hallett, along the Borchgrevink Coast, Antarctica on November 29, 2009. The Admiralty Mountains can be seen in the distance. (National Science Foundation/Jessy Jenkins) #
Blue sky blurring into white snow is what most of Antarctica looks like. Flat and white as far as the eye can see. Photo taken on February 3, 2009. (National Science Foundation/Corey Anthony) #
Antarctica's Inexpressible Island and the Northern Foothills Mountains were illuminated by a glimmer of sunlight from a low angle when the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this image on September 16, 2009. Visible are signs of the bay's persistent and fierce katabatic winds - downslope winds that blow from the interior of the ice sheet toward the coast. (NASA Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon) #
This remotely operated vehicle, known as SCINI (Submersible Capable of under Ice Navigation and Imaging) travels under the Antarctic ice to photograph benthic communities. It is used by Dr. Stacy Kim for her biological research. Photo taken on November 30, 2008. (National Science Foundation/Dr. Stacy Kim) #
In this undated photo released by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life, is shown a ghost-like sea-angel, platybrachium antarcticum, going through the deep Antarctic waters hunting the shelled pteropods (another type of snail) on which it feeds. (AP Photo/University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life, Russ Hopcroft) #
Red lights help maintenance workers doing routine repairs on the South Pole Telescope (SPT) on August 19, 2010. (National Science Foundation/Daniel Luong-Van) #
The base of the South Pole Telescope (SPT), seen on January 21, 2010. The 10-meter parabolic dish on top of this base is capturing signals of cosmic microwave background radiation. (National Science Foundation/Daniel Luong-Van) #
Mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula, seen on April 7, 2010. (National Science Foundation/Kelly Jacques) #
The Dark Sector at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is so named due to the absence of radio and light wave interference for the telescopes located there. The buildings on the left are the IceCube drill site facilities. The next building is the Ice Cube Laboratory (ICL). The third building is the Dark Sector Lab (DSL) with the South Pole Telescope and Bicep II Telescope. The building at right is the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory (MAPO). Photo taken on February 3, 2011. (National Science Foundation/Robert Schwarz) #
The Ice Cube Laboratory at Amundsen-Scott South Pole station on September 20, 2010, as dawn was breaking after six months of darkness. Ice Cube is the world's largest neutrino detector. (National Science Foundation/Mel MacMahon) #
This undated handout photo provided by the journal Science shows a view through the thick ice taken with penetrating radar over along the southern margin of the Gamburtsev Mountains. When it comes to ice, scientists are giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "bottoms up." Those massive ice sheets in Antarctica don't just grow from the top down, but also from the bottom up, according to new research recently published. (AP Photo/Robin E. Bell - Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, New York) #
A Weddell Sea finds a human-made hole in the annual sea ice a convenient opportunity to catch her breath on November 7, 2009. (National Science Foundation/Robyn Waserman) #
A cruise ship passes by islands along the Antarctic Peninsula on January 22, 2010. (National Science Foundation/Peter Rejcek) #
Ripples of sand in the Wright Valley, Victoria Land on March 15, 2008. (National Science Foundation/Chris Kannen) #
A bust of Captain Luis Pardo Villalon sits on the site of the camp of the stranded crew of Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance, on Elephant Island. Pardo was the was the captain of the Chilean steam tug Yelcho which rescued the 22 stranded crewmen in 1916. Original here. (Jason Auch / CC BY) #
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station experiences months of darkness. The sun dips below the horizon on March 21, after which follows several weeks of twilight before complete darkness results. Photo taken on June 25, 2009. (National Science Foundation/Jeremy Johnson) #
Gale winds blow across the ocean, near Elephant Island on December 28th, 2010. Original here. (RAYANDBEE / CC BY) #
A US Antarctic Program participant enjoys a walk under a full moon at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on June 19, 2008. (National Science Foundation/Calee Allen) #
* This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. OPP-9980474 (AMANDA) and OPP-0236449 (IceCube), University of Wisconsin-Madison

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