1. The density of ice and lack of air bubbles gives the ice a striking blue color
2. Icy cliffs like this line Antarctica's coastline
Though largely uninhabited, Antarctica is actually larger than Europe, Australia, and the United States and it is almost entirely covered by ice that is on average 1 mile thick. Despite the abundance of ice, it snows very little in Antarctica and it is considered the driest continent on Earth with an annual average of 8 inches of precipitation.
3. The ice can form in dramatic shapes, creating caverns and bridges
4. This is what such an ice cave looks like from within
5. Melting is only one of the reasons such a chunk of ice can break off, as glacial ice constantly moves and cracks
Most of Antarctica is comprised of glaciers, bodies of dense ice that form on land when ice piles up faster than it can melt. But glaciers are not static, constantly shifting under their weight, creating fissures and dramatic shapes. Altogether, the Antarctic ice sheet is the largest mass of ice on Earth, covering an area of roughly 14 million square miles.
6. Mount Erebus is the southernmost active volcano on Earth
7. This picture of an ice cavern was taken by explorer Frank Hurley during a 1911-14 expedition
8. Ice cave in Erebus Ice Tongue
9. Adélie penguins are much smaller than emperor and king penguins but are curious and dauntless
10. Crabeater seals actually feed on krill, an unrelated filter-feeding crustacean, not crabs
The harsh climate of Antarctica makes it less than desirable for most life forms, and all of the animals that call it home congregate along its coastline and feed on fish and crustaceans. Most famous of these animals are the penguins which come in a large range of sizes and attitudes, from the small and aggressive adélies to the majestic emperors.
11. King penguins can be told apart from the larger emperors by their pronounced orange "ears"
12. Far from flat, Antarctica is pocked with mountain ranges
13. The harsh elements of Antarctica sculpt at everything
14. Antarctica is the tallest continent, with an average elevation of 8,200 feet above sea level
15. Antarctica in all its crystalline glory
16. The good news is that Lake Fryxell is in one of the warmer regions of Antarctica, the bad news is it's warmer because of the 200/mph winds, which are so powerful they can raise the temperature to above freezing level
17. This rift in the ice sheet averages 240 feet in width and reaches 820 feet at its widest point