For some time now, the Google Street View team has been systematically mapping and creating imagery that allows us access to some of the world's most picturesque and historic locales. The latest location takes us literally to the ends of the Earth with a look inside Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton's survival hut.
Working with the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota, as well as the Antarctic Heritage Trust, Google was able to access Shackleton's surprisingly well-preserved and well-stocked hut. By taking several shots using fish-eye lenses, the Google team was able to stitch together the images to create one 360-degree experience.
The results are nothing short of amazing. Shackleton's hut was built in 1908, and fellow explorer Robert Scott's abode, which was also captured by Google, was built in 1912. Both explorers used the huts as a survival base during their explorations and race to be the first to reach the South Pole.
Understandably, the cabins were built to be durable. But it was the cold conditions that helped preserve the cabins — and their contents — for over 200 years since the explorers used them. The 5,000 items in Shackleton's hut and over 8,000 in Scott's are clearly visible and users of the tool will be able to zoom up close enough to see familiar names on items (such as Heinz Ketchup) and even the holes in their socks.
There is so much to look at you become engrossed in the story and the conditions, and how difficult it must have been for these explorers to live there months at a time.
Sadly, neither Shackleton or Scott would be the first to the South Pole — that feat went to Norwegian Roald Amdusen. Shackleton's team missed the goal by 97 miles as supply shortages forced his expedition home. Scott's team made it to the Pole, but his party died among harsh conditions on the return trip.
Maybe you remember learning this in school and having a big yawn over a bit of history like this. Now imagine your teacher handing you a tablet and letting you explore the cabins these guys were cooped up in as you learn the history. Suddenly the awesomeness of their accomplishments in an age where they had no comfort or communication with the outside world becomes tangible and impactful.
The images from Shackleton and Scott's huts along with other sites in the area such as the South Pole Telescope, Cape Royds Adelie Penguin Rookery and the Ceremonial South Pole, will be added to Google's World of Wonders site which already contains such locations as Pompeii, the palace of Versailles, the Great Barrier Reef and more to allow virtual visitors to constantly be learning and exploring.