Images of various Artifacts of the Month's

November 2021

Artifact of the Month

Thermometer, Alcohol, Absolute Zero

This alcohol thermometer was found in the vicinity of Peary's Cape Morris Jessup cairn by CWO Ulysses Morton, a member of the Lead Dog Aviation Element. Because of the year manufactured, 1891, and the location found, the thermometer is believed to have been lost by Admiral Robert E. Peary, USN, during one of his scientific expeditions.

Admiral Peary made a trip to Greenland in 1891 in an attempt tofind out whether Greenland was a much larger landmass extending to the North Pole. He discovered Greenland was, in fact, an island and did not extend all the way to the North Pole. On a subsequent expedition to Greenland (lasting from 1898 to 1902) he discovered Cape Morris Jessup, where this thermometer was found.

American military personnel continued to explore into the Arctic further the 20th Century. In early 1959, a four-man expedition called Operation Top Dog conducted a study covering 150 miles from Thule Air Base up the northwest coast of Greenland.

Operation Lead Dog, during which this thermometer was found, was a continuation of Operation Top Dog, expanded to a 41-man team and explored along the upper edge of Greenland, covering over 600 miles. Its mission was to experiment with transportation equipment, map a safe route to the northernmost part of the world, and conduct weather studies. They tested surface conditions on the ice cap, some of which were up to 19,000 feet deep. They also tested for movement of the ice caps and took radiation readings. The team was supplied by H-19 Chickasaw helicopters, which also carried scientists to various locations for experiments.