EXPLORATION: Compelling Continent

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Wrapped around the flattened underside of the earth is a massive, high-domed shield of rock and ice. This is the Antarctic Continent, a frozen and almost lifeless wasteland studded with glistening mountains that stand like icy tombstones over a cosmos-sized graveyard. In its skies, angry clouds drift over seas of corrugated sastrugi and sparkling glacial spillways. To the explorer this continent of 5,000,000 square miles—three-fourths as big as the U.S. and Canada combined—is a geologic throwback to the Ice Age. It is the world's most hostile environment of earth and...

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