The Legacy main content.

The Legacy

Part of the Race to the End of the Earth exhibition.


Scott's Work In Antarctica Helped Create A Continent For Science

Modern Scientists Enjoy Safe Research Conditions

With few exceptions, the scientists of the Heroic Age had one chance, and one only, to go to Antarctica. If they didn't get what they needed in their sole throw of the dice, they were out of luck.

Today, field scientists working in Antarctica are supported by elaborate infrastructures that are funded and maintained by national polar programs. Support and safety for literally thousands of scientists engaged in a wide spectrum of research activities is provided by the more than 40 permanent scientific stations administered by individual nations and by a host of summer field camps. For studies that require ongoing data collection, such long-term access to study sites is critical. Because territorial claims were suspended in 1961 under the terms of the original Antarctic Treaty, modern-day scientists are free to go wherever science and their curiosity takes them.


Modern Scientist-Explorers As Scott's Inheritors

The tragic end of Scott's life will always dominate any treatment of his legacy. But anyone who knows the sweep of his entire story-and not merely his death-recognizes the lasting importance of his contribution. By encouraging scientific investigation of the Last Continent, he did something that few and perhaps no other participant in the Heroic Age was willing or even in a position to do. That remains his fundamental contribution, and every scientist who has worked in the Antarctic since then owes him something for it.

No one owns Antarctica; we all do. May it always remain a continent for science.