Google now lets you explore Antarctica from the comfort of your desk

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Antarctica is cold, foreboding and extremely hostile to human life. But there’s something about it that’s been drawing people there for years.

Now you can try to figure out precisely what is that’s sent explorers and scientists to the ice continent, all without having to leave your chair.

Google today launched a series of extra StreetView images of historic locations in Antarctica. The locations — which include the South Pole Telescope, Shackleton’s hut, Scott’s hut, Cape Royds Adélie Penguin Rookery and the Ceremonial South Pole — adds to the images of the continent it first posted in 2010.

Google says that this new imagery was collected with a lightweight tripod camera with a fisheye lens—equipment typically used to capture business interiors through the Business Photos program.

“We worked with this technology because of its portability, reliability and ease-of-use,” it says, adding that the Street View trikes it usually uses wouldn’t be much use in the snow.

According to Google:

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.

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