This photo is of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station taken every 15 minutes (if a relay satellite is available for transmission) from the roof of the Atmospheric Research Observatory which houses NOAA/CMDL's Clean Air Facility. In order to preserve the life of the camera, it is tilted down onto the snow when the sun is in the field of view, which occurs for several weeks around sunset (March) and sunrise (September) when the sun marches in a circle above the horizon. From mid-April until mid-August the moon and the aurora australis provide the only natural lighting.
The new station, presently under construction, can be seen to the right in the photo; the old (circa 1973) domed station is to the left. The new station is elevated above the snow to prevent it being buried by the drifting snow (the present fate of the old domed station). When the new station is finished in about 2006, the old dome and buildings inside will be removed. At present (March 2003) the portion of the new station which you see is far enough along so that some of the 2003 winter-over personnel (including Loreen Lock and Brian Vasel of CMDL) will be living in it. The new galley (with windows!) is now being used for meals. The cylindrical object at the end of the station, fondly called the "beer can," is the entrance to the station.