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Google Maps feature panoramic images of Antarctica's icy landscape

As part of its World Wonders project, Google Maps Street View offers you a virtual tour of the icy continent, complete with glaciers, snowy vistas and penguins via 360-degree panoramic imagery.

Google Maps, a service that lets you explore amazing places around the world just got a little better! Anyone with an internet connection can view natural wonders, go inside restaurants, navigate a trip and now even visit Antarctica!

As part of its World Wonders project, Google Maps Street View offers you a virtual tour of the icy continent, complete with glaciers, snowy vistas and penguins via 360-degree panoramic imagery.

The primary aim of the new feature is to teach users about the history of the Antarctic explorations and the people who first landed on this inhospitable environment.

With help from the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota and the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, Google captured images of many historic spots.

Google used a lightweight tripod camera with a fisheye lens for the photos as traditional lenses were unable to capture the snow capped landscape.

Paul Morin, director of the National Science Foundation-funded Polar Geospatial Center in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering stated, "This is the ultimate public outreach. These are places that nobody can visit without tremendous effort and cost. This puts the glory of Antarctica at people's fingertips around the world so everyone can be an 'armchair' polar explorer."

The primary aim of the new feature is to teach users about the history of the Antarctic explorations and the people who first landed on this inhospitable environment.

Panoramic 360-degree images of the South Pole
Users can explore the small wooden huts of great Antarctic explorers like Ernest Shackleton and Robert Scott during their landmark expeditions in the early 1900s.

The huts are well preserved and the rooms are filled with artifacts. They give an insight into the day-to-day lives of the explorers.

Alex Starns, Google's Street View technical program manager, wrote in a post, "They were built to withstand the drastic weather conditions only for the few short years that the explorers inhabited them, but remarkably, after more than a century, the structures are still intact, along with well-preserved examples of the food, medicine, survival gear and equipment used during the expeditions."

Users can also view lifelike photos of the Ceremonial South Pole, delight in the birds of the Cape Royds Adélie Penguin Rookery and marvel at the South Pole Telescope.

Starns wrote, "The goal of these efforts is to provide scientists and travel (or penguin) enthusiasts all over the world with the most accurate, high-resolution data of these important historic locations.

"With this access, schoolchildren as far as Bangalore can count penguin colonies on Snow Hill Island, and geologists in Georgia can trace sedimentary layers in the Dry Valleys from the comfort of their desks."