Mysterious Cosmic Rays Are Shooting Out Of Antarctica – And It’s Left Scientists Completely Baffled

ADVERTISEMENT

Image: via Quanta Magazine
Image: Olena Shmahalo via Quanta

Way back in 2006, a group of scientists inflated a giant balloon intended to float over Antarctica. Kitted out with sophisticated equipment, the inflatable was launched in order to detect high-energy particles arriving on Earth from space. While it was in the air, though, the balloon observed something peculiar. And now the scientific consensus of the past century or so is being called into question.

Image: Joe Mastroianni, National Science Foundation
Image: Joe Mastroianni, National Science Foundation

Antarctica – the most southerly continent on planet Earth – was initially sighted in 1820 by a Russian naval expedition. The first landing on Antarctica, however, is not thought to have taken place until January 1895, when a pair of Norwegian adventurers finally arrived at Cape Adare, to the north of the continent.

ADVERTISEMENT

Image: Stephen Hudson
Image: Stephen Hudson

And as the majority of Antarctica is coated with thick ice, human exploration there has proven difficult since its discovery. Still, given the unique conditions found on the continent, it’s naturally of great interest to the global scientific community. In order to aid scientific investigation there, then, the Antarctic Treaty System began to be enforced in 1961.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT