Russians Reach Antarctic Lake Sealed 15M Years
Lake Vostok may yield new life forms
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2012 12:35 AM CST
Updated Feb 7, 2012 4:00 AM CST
A NASA satellite image of Lake Vostok.   (NASA)

(Newser) – Russian scientists have successfully drilled through more than two miles of ice to reach a "lost world" under Antarctica, according to a Russian newswire. Lake Vostok has been sealed off for some 15 million years. While some fear it has been contaminated by kerosene and other materials used by the Russian team, scientists hope it will yield exceptionally hardy life forms that have evolved in isolation from everything else on Earth, the Guardian reports.

The expedition could "transform the way we do science in Antarctica and provide us with an entirely new view of what exists under the vast Antarctic ice sheet," a veteran Antarctic researcher tells LiveScience. The Russian team only has a few days before brutal cold will force them to leave the research station, and any analysis of lake samples will have to wait until later this year. American and British teams are also working to obtain samples from the lakes under Antarctica, of which Vostok—the size of Lake Ontario but only discovered in the '90s—is the biggest.

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Showing 3 of 14 comments
Feb 9, 2012 3:38 PM CST
The Thing...[doom doom....doom doom]
Feb 7, 2012 10:38 AM CST
"... scientists hope it will yield exceptionally hardy life forms that have evolved in isolation from everything else on Earth" Unlike anything we've seen on Earth, but perhaps not so dissimilar to life on other icy worlds of the cosmos.
Feb 7, 2012 7:40 AM CST
Further to this story is the Russians are using an older technology to reach that lake (coring their way down). They will be the first to reach a lake in Antarctica but they will only be able to get a sample of the surface water. Like going onto Lake Ontario and scooping a bucket from the surface and thinking you have a representative of the whole lake (the lake is over 1,100 feet deep). At another lake the Americans and British are using technology developed specifically for the purpose of drilling into under ice lakes. They will be able to sample water at any depth as well as take samples of the bottom.