where God stores the deluge when He isn't using it a continent covered by a giant (though shrinking) plain of ice around the South Pole, opposite the Arctic. Almost all of Antarctica is south of the Antarctic Circle, and it covers 14.4 million square kilometers (5.4 million sq mi), making it the fifth-largest continent after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. Ice covers about 98% of Antarctica to an average depth of 1.6 kilometers (1.0 mi) in thickness.
 Potential exploitation
Antarctica is presently protected by a treaty which prohibits exploitation of the continent. Given that global warming is making potential exploitation easier and that the threat of peak oil is making potential exploitation more profitable it is highly probable that petroleum exploration will begin before the end of the next decade. There's a fair amount of coal there, too, but it would be costly to extract.
In this case it is somewhat ironic that the very countries and institutions which deny the existence of global warming are using its consequences to further the process which generated the warming in the first instance. (There is also a similar situation with the de-icing of the Arctic, Arctic shipping lines and the resources under the Arctic continental shelves.)
The Antarctic has a unique though limited ecosystem with no land dwelling mammals. In fact, the largest completely terrestrial animal on Antarctica is a half-inch long "wingless fly." Penguins, though cute, do not count; they spend much of their time in the water nearby.
 Mars rocks
Antarctica is a major source of rocks from Mars because they fall on an enormous ice-covered plain, and are conveyed by means of a very slow "conveyor belt" of moving glacial ice to be deposited at the edge where the flow is obstructed by hills and mountains. The rocks stand out on the flat, white surface.
 Planet X
A somehow puzzling, but persistent view among some Planet X/Nibiru believers is that it can only be seen from Antarctica and/or the South Pole, because "it's approaching Earth from below the ecliptic". (Even if this was true, it would be visible from every point south of the equator, not only from the South Pole.) As a result, many obsessively watch the live webcam feeds from various Antarctic research stations, trying hard to find anomalies such as inconsistent sunrise times or strange objects in the sky, often with hilarious results. (See the Neumayer Station article for some examples.) Another facet of the belief is the dark significance some give to the South Pole Telescope[wp], despite the fact that it is a radio telescope and doesn't produce pictures in the visible light spectrum. And no, it's not owned by the Vatican.
 Alien spaceships
Lake Vostok is the site of a drilling project by the Russians, an attempt to break through the thick layer of ice on the lake surface to see if there is life within that has been isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years. there has been some low-level speculation that alien life could have been found, and that it was being kept secret. The lake has turned out to be lifeless so far.
A rather odder claim is that a US spy satellite found a spaceship under the ice in 2001, and the Americans have been hushing it up ever since. Attendant stories of a vanishing film crew, and an erupting "time vortex" simply add to the confusion - while also subtracting from the original story's credibility.
 Other views
Some people believe that Antarctica is a myth, despite all of the people who have crossed it. They instead claim there is a giant wall of ice/rock, that keeps the water in.
Other people have written about a great range of mountains in the middle of the continent, which is supposedly the location of a great city built by space aliens a billion years ago. (This seems more believable than the claim immediately above.)
- ↑ Originally its sections banning mineral exploitation were due to expire in 1991, but were given a fifty-year extension by the Madrid Protocol.
- ↑ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071018095749.htm
- ↑ Faure and Mensing, The Transantarctic Mountains, pp.358-9
- ↑ http://www.spacedaily.com/news/meteor-05g.html
- ↑ http://www.nasm.si.edu/etp/mars/marsrock.html
- ↑ Antarctica’s Lake Vostok reveals no signs of life initially, Russians report
- ↑ The Lake Vostok ‘Alien Craft’ Coverup
- ↑ The Hollow Earth