Located in the Southern Atlantic Ocean roughly 1,700 miles (2,735 km) due east of Argentinas southernmost tip, South Georgia Island was a stop-over point for Sir Ernest Shackleton in November 1914. Sailing aboard the Endurance, Shackleton was on his famous expedition to be the first to travel across Antarctica, from sea to sea and across the South Pole. At that time, the island was home to only a small whaling village on its northern shore. In April 1915, with his mission failed and most of his crew stranded on Elephant Island some 800 miles (1,287 km) to the southwest, Shackleton returned to South Georgia Island in a lifeboat with some of his men rowing through blizzard-like conditions and later riding out a hurricane just off South Georgia Islands southern shore. Shackleton eventually made landfall and quickly set out again on a rescue expedition to Elephant Island where he successfully recovered the rest of his crew. Today, Shackleton lies buried in a small cemetary at Grytviken.
South Georgia Island is entirely covered by snow and ice in this striking true-color image acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), flying aboard NASAs Terra satellite, on August 8, 2002. Some 105 miles (170 km) long and varying from 1 to 25 miles (2 to 40 km) wide, the island itself resembles a carved and weatherbeaten whalebone. The many dark shadows contrasting with the bright white surface reveal a rugged terrain, with eleven mountain peaks across the island standing taller than 2,000 meters (6,560 feet). Mount Pagets peak, located near the center of the island, is the tallest, standing roughly 2,900 meters (9515 feet).
Many boundary layer cumulus clouds fill the atmosphere in the larger region surrounding the island in this scene. Toward the upper lefthand corner of the image a number of sinewy patterns snaking across the cloud bank indicates open-cell convection. South Georgia Island appears to be creating a wake of thicker marine stratocumulus clouds flowing away from its northeast shore. Interestingly, one tongue of the marine stratocumulus appears to point directly at a pass running through the mountains, through which strong winds are undoubtedly channeled. The break in the clouds surrounding the island nicely frames a unique view of the surface. Phytoplankton appears to be in bloom all around the island, giving the deep blue South Atlantic waters a lighter, more turquoise hue.
There is no permanent human base on South Georgia Island, a British territory in the South Atlantic Ocean that lies 1,300 kilometers east of the Falkland Islands. The crew of the International Space Station captured this image of the rugged and isolated landscape of the northern shore of the island. The first recorded explorer to land on the island was Captain James Cook aboard the HMS Resolution in 1775. He mapped part of the coastline, but was discouraged by the thick ice cover, lack of vegetation, and steep mountains. Mt. Paget, the highest peak, rises to 2,934 meters (9,625 feet) above sea level, and the island supports 161 glaciers. Cook named the southernmost point of the island “Cape Disappointment” when he realized he had not reached Antarctica.
Bouvet Island is known as the most remote island in the world; Antarctica, over 1600 kilometers (994 miles) to the south, is the nearest land mass. Located near the junction between the South American, African, and Antarctic tectonic plates, the island is mostly formed from a shield volcano—a broad, gently sloping cone formed by thin, fluid lavas—that is almost entirely covered by glaciers.