Whats the last place on Earth you would expect to find deserts?
Well if you guessed ANTARCTICA the snow covered continent where the south pole lies then you are absolutely correct!
The Dry Valleys of Antarctica
They are one of the driest places on earth. Rainfall has been extremely rare during the past two million years. When NASA noticed a similarity between the ultra dry landscapes of Mars and the Dry Valleys, it decided to conduct research in these desolate Antarctica valleys in preparation for its Viking missions to Mars.
This 4,000 square kilometer (1600 square mile) area is one of the few Antarctic places not covered with ice.
One reason is the atmosphere is so dry that it rarely snows. When it does, the snowfall is sparse and evaporates quickly.
The second and most important reason is that mountains block the path of glaciers that would otherwise pass over the Dry Valleys. What glacial ice reaches the valleys is skimpy and evaporates within several weeks. If it were not for the mountain barrier, the Dry Valleys would be buried under the ice cap, as is most of Antarctica.
The Dry Valleys are near the Ross Ice Shelf, and even closer to the US operated McMurdo Station. The latter is known for its ecological and environmental research.
There are three major valleys (Taylor, Victoria and Wright), which are separated by iceless mountain ridges.
The valley floors are scattered with small and large rocks. Some of the rocks have been shaped over time into grotesque forms by the valley's strong winds.
The land is not entirely lifeless. Some small scale life (including fungi) have evolved into life forms that live inside the porous rocks.
Amazing or what?