In 2012, Google’s street view team traveled to the world’s least-populated continent to capture historic sites such as the South Pole and the insides of buildings that have battled the elements for more than a century.
Taking a virtual look inside places that provided shelter for Antarctica’s earliest explorers is like stepping back in time. “They were built to withstand the drastic weather conditions only for the few short years that the explorers inhabited them,” says Google. “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.”
For Google to create a 360-degree image of a certain area, it basically needs to snap multiple photos from multiple angles at the same time. Starting with a special camera with 15 lenses, each lens snaps a photo that overlaps somewhat with the two lenses on either side of it. Then, the resulting images are stitched together into a panoramic shot.
Street View photos are normally gathered using specially modified cars, trikes, and even snowmobiles with a custom camera. But the crop of immersive imagery from the icy continent was collected using only “a lightweight tripod with a fisheye lens,” according to Google. In an area as unforgiving as Antarctica, Google says it “worked with this technology because of its portability, reliability, and ease-of-use.”
The end result may not be quite the same as being there in person, but it’s definitely a historically interesting step forward. And it’s a lot warmer, safer, and less expensive, too.
A virtual tour of the interior of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s hut displays the host of supplies used in early 20th century Antarctic expeditions—everything from medicine and food to candles and cargo sleds can be found neatly stored inside. Click here or on the image below to view a 360-degree panorama of the hut.