Ross Island and the Station before McMurdo
Ross Island is home to two famous volcanos, Mount Erebus and Mount Terror. It is also where Ernest Shackleton built his cabin on Cape Royds and Robert Scott built his hut on Cape Evans. The first station on the island, Discovery Hut, was built at Hut Point by Scott during his 1901 – 04 expedition. The island had already been discovered in 1840 by James Clark Ross, however, which explains why the island bears his name.
McMurdo Base Size and Population
McMurdo Station was originally build in 1956 for the International Geophysical Year of 1957 – 58. The station can support more than 1,200 people, though during the southern hemisphere winter that population goes down to about 200. McMurdo can feel more like a village than a station, as there are about 85 buildings, including hostels, a chapel, a harbor, and three airfields. From 1961 until 1972, there was even a nuclear reactor and power plant at the station.
The Science of McMurdo Base
The primary purpose of McMurdo is scientific research. Although most of the people who live there are service personnel, a great deal of science work is conducted on and around the station. There are several on-site laboratories and research facilities covering fields ranging from climatological research, atmospheric studies, biology, geology, and glaciology, among others.