Click on things in this image to learn more about the region.
The dome is the heart of the South Pole Amundsen-Scott Station and where all the action is. This is where the scientists and support staff "winter-over," meaning that they live here during the long, dark winter when there are no flights in and out of the Pole, from about 15 February to about 25 October. Winter population is only 26-28 people, and is limited by how much food and fuel can be stored over the winter and how much space there is to sleep in the dome. Since there are flights in and out during the summer, much more food and fuel can be brought in, and the summer population explodes to 200 people, not all of whom stay in the dome. (There are plans to increase this further to 225 over the next couple years as the new station is built -- in fact, as you read this, this tour is probably no longer completely current as a result of all the new construction). Even in the summer, the dome is where people eat and recreate, and a general social center.First, you can visit the dome overall, covering the approach, the tunnels, and the buildings inside. Just inside the door to the dome, there is a 252-foot-long steel structure sheltering a series of areas commonly called arches, which include the garage, gym, power generators, the hospital ("Biomed"), and a place for fuel storage. The dome shelters three main buildings which house science facilities (which connects to Skylab), dining/kitchen areas, living quarters, communications equipment, etc. There is also a balloon-inflation tower.
All of these things contribute to Life at the South Pole. When you're looking at these things, think about how life would be on a spacecraft to Mars or another distant place -- there are a lot of similarities: hostile environment, few people, confined space...
The links to continue the virtual tour from this page are: general dome pictures, arches, science facilities, dining/kitchen areas, communications equipment, balloon-inflation tower, and Life at the South Pole.