Antarctica’s Tallest Peak Captured, North Pole Not So Much

Antarctica

Antarctica is our planet’s southernmost continent and home to the South Pole, permanent manned research stations, penguins and an occasional adventure cruise ship expedition. This time of year, a lot of attention traditionally goes to Earth’s North Pole, home of Santa and the gang. But NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory recently passed over Antarctica’s tallest peak, Mount Vinson, as we see in this photo.

On October 22, 2012, during a flight over the continent to measure changes in the massive ice sheet and sea ice, NASA captured this image as part of its ongoing program.NASA’s Airborne Science Program at the University of North Dakota manages operations of NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory aircraft, which collects data for the world’s scientific community. The DC-8 flies three primary missions: sensor development, satellite sensor verification and basic research studies of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

Operation IceBridge is a multi-year airborne campaign to watch changes in the Earth’s polar ice caps in both the Antarctic and Arctic. Mount Vinson is located in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains in Antarctica.

The North and South poles are the two points where the Earth’s axis of rotation intersects with its surface. While the South pole actually exists in a physical place on Antarctica, the North Pole is really in the middle of the Arctic Ocean in waters covered with sea ice almost year-round … except for around Christmas time when Santa, Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and elves are busy with the holidays.

NASA has tried repeatedly to photograph Santa’s home but cannot come up with more than an image of ice and snow.

“NASA’s Terra satellite was able to piece together a number of images it took to give us a complete look at the North Pole, which is usually very difficult to see by satellites, so Santa can keep his exact location secret,” says NASA captioning this Flickr photo.

[Photo Credit: NASA]

See Santa Differently With Fun Alternative Events

see santa

A trip to see Santa is part of the holidays for many families with children. Mixed in with shopping at a local mall or a special trip just to visit with Santa and his elves, reindeer or even Mrs. Claus, it’s a required part of holiday tradition. But if standing in a long line has lost a bit of its luster, some alternative events might be worth the trip for a Santa experience like no other.

Santa In The Park- Minnesota
In Minnesota, they know all about cold, snowy holiday weather. On December 8, the Carver County Parks and Carver County Historical Society have a great alternative for standing in line for an hour for three minutes with Santa at the mall. Featuring free snowshoe trails (conditions permitting), holiday trivia games, holiday treat decorating, holiday face painting and more, a variety of family focused holiday activities are available on Saturday, Dec. 8 between 3-5 p.m. Lake Minnewashta Regional Park

Heights And Lights- Connecticut
Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus, rappelling from 22 stories high above Stamford Downtown. Watch and cheer for Santa Claus as he makes his daredevil descent, twisting and flying from the top of one of Stamford’s tallest buildings, Landmark Square, at Heights and Lights. Next, follow Santa up Bedford Street to Latham Park for an evening of holiday fun with live music, and join in the countdown of the annual lighting of Stamford’s Holiday Tree. Sunday, December 2, 2012, 5 p.m.High-Speed Santa– Connecticut
Board the locomotive-powered sleigh of the Essex Steam Train for a one-of-a-kind holiday experience aboard festive railway cars adorned with vintage decorations, as Santa and Mrs. Claus visit each child. Rudolph and Pablo the Penguin will be on board to spread holiday cheer. Plus, each child will receive a small holiday gift from Santa’s Elves. Happening now through December 23, tickets start at $20 per person for the one-hour ride with departures at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., and 11:30 a.m. on select operating days.

Skydiving Santa Arrives- Texas
Galveston’s Moody Gardens has a Festival of Lights that has become a Texas holiday tradition. Visitors enjoy more than 1 million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays and nightly live entertainment. Hosting the area’s only outdoor ice-skating rink and a new ice slide, Santa is on hand too, arriving via parachute as we see in this video:



[Photo Credit- Flickr user Bart Fields]

TSA your holiday … or, “What Santa Claus looks like under the scanner”

TSA Your HolidayEver wonder what Santa Claus is really hiding under that big red suit, or what he “sees” in Mrs. Claus? Thanks to new website TSA Your Holiday, now you can. Mr. & Mrs. Claus, Frosty, Scrooge, and even Ruldolph take to the scanners (no opt-outs here!) for their big reveals.

Says the site:

In a scoop of WikiLeak-ian proportions, Curley & Pynn has secured highly confidential images of holiday icons (sorry, Santa and Mrs. Claus), which we are releasing for public consumption.

If nothing else, the site provides a bit of much needed levity from a nation already wary of TSA policies.

Thanks to top tweeter @BrooklynNomad for the tip.