Antarctica is one of the most extreme climates in the world, inhabited by approximately 1,000 to 5,000 researchers and support staff. Surviving in this barren penguin-inhabited wasteland requires some of the most extreme land vehicles in the world.
After relying primarily on sea and air transportation, moving supplies and individuals over land has become a more popular and efficient choice. Conditions are so harsh almost every vehicle, even those used for short distances, are required to carry two survival bags filled with sleeping packs, warming materials, food and a transponder. Pack up your long-johns and click "next" for a journey to the South Pole.
Vehicle: Tucker Sno-Cat
Where used: McMurdo Station
Distance: Short-to-Medium Distances
Special Features: This tracked vehicle steers by hydraulically pivoting both the front and rear axles it, allowing it to maneuver around the snow. These vehicles are often used in a mode similar to tractors and pickups.
Photo Credit: nomadwarmachine
Where used: Popular vehicle for the Australian outposts, especially Casey Station, capable of transporting passengers.
Distance: Medium-to-Long Distances
Special Features: Powered by compact diesel engines, these cross-country tracked vehicles come with a detached, articulated cab that allows the vehicle to cross serious terrain and haul passengers and gear. Also, it floats, just in case.
Vehicle: Ivan The Terra Bus by Foremost
Where used: McMurdo Station
Distance: Typically carries passengers between landing planes and McMurdo Station, the largest outpost on Antarctica.
Special Features: This jacked-up off road bus carries more passengers than any other vehicle on the continent. It also has an awesome name.
Photo Credit: Wisc.edu
Vehicle: Mars-1 Humvee
Where used: This military-spec HMMWV is used as a cross-country vehicle.
Distance: Long distances
Special Features: Designed to provide arctic research and attempt to mimic economical design for exploration in martian or lunar environments, the small cabin includes research facilities and two bunks for sleeping.
Vehicle: Ford E-Series Vans
Where used: McMurdo station and other permanent stations
Distance: Short-to-Long Distances depending on use.
Special Feature: The E-series van, heavily modified, is a popular choice for Antarctica. These range from the rather tame 4x4 version to this, the six-wheel Ice Challenger Science Support Vehicle with a 7.3-liter turbo-diesel engine, air suspension, GPS communications and a 20-speed transmission. It set a world record for crossing from the coast to the south pole in 69 hours. The old record? 24 days.
Photo Credit: ExFordy
Vehicle: "Antarctica 1" Volkswagen Beetle
Where used: Australia's Mawson Station
Distance: Very short distances, like a taxi
Special Features: The first regular production vehicle ever on Antarctica was a freaking VW Beetle. Seriously. Mods are minor and include the European "winterization" package, insulated battery, an aluminum cover for the air intake, and strengthening bars to the front and rear.
Photo Credit: Netro.com
Vehicle: Foremost Delta Two
Where used: Williams Field Airport
Distance: Short distances
Special Features: One of the other large passenger vehicles on the continent, the Delta Two is an articulated heavy duty truck platform with a big metal shed on the back for transporting passengers. It's not hi-tech, but it works.
Photo Credit: Elisfanclub
Vehicle: Lotus Concept Ice Vehicle
Where used: Will be used this year on a cross-continental expedition.
Distance: Pulled extremely long distances, used for shorter distances.
Special Feature: This super-light vehicle runs on E85 biofuel and crosses the ice lightly on skis. Designed by Lotus, this vehicle will use an Ice Penetrating Radar to detect hidden crevasses ahead of the six-wheeled vehicles.
Vehicle: SkiDoo Snowmobile
Where used: Everywhere
Special Feature: The Skidoo snowmobile are the horses of modern Antarctic transportation, carrying goods and people across snow and ice.
Vehicle: Foremost Nodwell
Where used: Major permanent stations
Special Feature: Unlike the Delta and Terabus, the two-tracked vehicles offer more versatility and ability than the wheeled vehicles and, as seen here, can be outfitted with numerous platform attachments such as a passenger cabin.
Photo Credit: Alexander Colhoun National Science Foundation