At Concordia Research Station, 350 miles from Lake Vostok and just over a thousand miles from the geographic South Pole, the temperature reaches –112°F and night lasts for three months, which makes it that much more amazing when the sun finally does rise. It’s one of the most otherworldly places in the world.

Staffed by scientists from France and Italy, Concordia Research Station is used as a test facility for space travel, because it is similar in many ways (isolation, temperature) to the stresses of space travel. The ESA is using the station to prepare for a possible Mars trip–but during the long winter, it’s too cold and brutal outside to even emerge, or to get supplies.

[via ESA]