Forget the long boat ride and freezing temperatures -- thanks to Google Street View, now you can take a stroll on the rocky coast of Antarctica from the comfort of your own home. Since the feature was first made available in 2007, the Web giant has gone on to add images from around the world -- and with today's launching of Street View in South America and Antarctica, now every continent is covered. "This allows people to understand the contrast between New York Times Square and being on the edge of a glacier looking at penguins," says Google. And the best part? You can do it all in your underwear.
View Street View in Antarctica in a larger map
According to a report from The Guardian, today marked the launching of Google's Street View option in Brazil and Ireland, as well as Antarctica. Though the coverage is currently limited in these places for the time being, it is the first time such images have been available of every continent on the planet.
Google's Brian McClendon, vice-president of engineering the company's Earth and Map division, sees the Street View as an educational tool:
We often consider Street View to be the last zoom layer on the map, and a way to show you what a place looks like as if you were there in person - whether you're checking out a coffee shop across town or planning a vacation across the globe. We hope this new imagery will help people in Ireland, Brazil, and even the penguins of Antarctica to navigate nearby, as well as enable people around the world to learn more about these areas.
While chances are that penguins won't be getting much use out of the Street View, it may be the closest most folks get to visiting the bottom of the world. Unfortunately, Google may be hard pressed to keep such images up to date. Rapidly melting glaciers and a bleak outlook for penguins resulting from climate change, threaten to change the picture of Antarctica we have today.
But at least now you can say you've been there -- kind of.