Google Street View Comes to Antarctica, Now on All Seven Continents
CREDIT: Google Street View
Google Street View, the map feature that lets one look around a location in 360 degrees as if standing right there in person, has now made it all the way to the great frozen continent of Antarctica.
In its official blog last week, Google announced the rollout of the Street View feature for more practical purposes to the countries of Brazil and Ireland as well. Curious tourists can now scope out the beaches of the former's Copacabana, for example, or the Emerald Isle's rolling moors.
But for those looking to get an eyeful of Chinstrap penguins, then Antarctica, naturally, is the place to go.
Google Street View, it should go without saying, is extremely limited in Antarctica. The barren landmass, although about the combined size of the United States and Mexico, sports a human population never greater than a few thousand scientists mostly holed up in several dozen research facilities.
The initial Street View images in Antarctica were limited to Half Moon Island, a crescent-shaped member of the South Shetland Islands strewn some 75 miles (120 kilometers) to the north of the Antarctica Peninsula stretching toward South America's southern tip.
By moving around within these vistas, users can see the crew of the expedition and the ship that brought Brian McClendon, Google's vice president of engineering for Google Earth and Maps, to Half Moon Island back in January.
While there, he and his wife snapped panoramas that captured the landscape's snow-swept rocks, its surrounding deep blue, frigid waters and the tiny penguins that call the remote island home.
"We often consider Street View to be . . . 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," wrote McClendon in the blog. "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."
Users have since contributed numerous other photos of Antarctica that from the overarching Google Maps view appear, as usual, as blue dots.
By dragging the so-called Pegman, who normally looks like a yellow "bathroom man" icon found on restroom doors but who gets a penguin makeover for parts of Antarctica, computer-bound explorers can soak up views of this rarest of localities.
Introduced back in 2007, Google Street View has generated its fair share of controversy, especially from privacy groups.
A few weeks ago, for instance, the government of the Czech Republic declined to grant Google the rights to pursue Street View, and other nations including Germany have grumbled about the king of Internet searches' forays into the sphere of public and private streets.
Half Moon Island's Chinstrap penguins, however, surely will not complain about a little online overexposure .