Scientists Bore Two Miles into Antarctic Ice, Reach Ancient Lake

By @xanthonysfx on
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    A man stands near drilling apparatus at the Vostock research camp in Antarctica in this January 13, 2006 handout photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken January 13, 2006. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    Researchers work with drilling apparatus at the Vostok camp in Antarctica in this January 16, 2006 handout photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken January 16, 2006. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    The head of the drilling rig used by the Russian research team to drill to the Vostok underground lake at the Vostock research camp in Antarctica is seen in this September 1, 2007 picture. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Photo taken September 1, 2007. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    Drilling milestones reached and marked on the wall are seen at the Vostok camp in Antarctica in this June 29, 2010 handout photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken June 29, 2010. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    Researchers work with drilling apparatus at the Vostok camp in Antarctica in this April 5, 2010 handout photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken April 5, 2010. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    An ice core is seen at the Vostok camp in Antarctica in this April 5, 2010 handout photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken April 5, 2010. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    A general view of the Vostock research camp in Antarctica in this January 5, 2005 handout photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken January 5, 2005. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    An aerial view of the Vostock research camp in Antarctica is seen in this January 5, 2005 handout photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken January 5, 2005. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    A general view of drilling apparatus at the Vostock research camp in Antarctica in this April 5, 2010 handout photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken April 5, 2010. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    A general view of the Vostock research camp in Antarctica is seen in this June 29, 2010 handout photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling in to the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken June 29, 2010. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    A supply convoy arrives at the Vostock research camp in Antarctica in this December 2009 handout photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken in December 2009. Reuters
  • Lake Vostok Drilling Expedition
    Researchers enjoy a traditional welcome of vodka and bread at the Vostok camp in Antarctica in this April 5, 2010 photograph. Russian scientists are close to drilling into the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. Picture taken April 5, 2010. Reuters
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Russian scientists successfully bored two miles into Antarctic ice to reach an ancient lake called Vostok, Feb. 8, and it's the first time one of more than 300 such Antarctic lakes has been uncovered.

This fills my soul with joy, Valery Lukin, from Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) in St Petersburg that has been overseeing the project, said to BBC News.

Lukin said the lake could give new insights into Antarctica's history and perhaps even yield new forms of microbial life never before seen.

This will give us the possibility to biologically evaluate the evolution of living organisms... because those organisms spent a long time without contact with the atmosphere, without sunlight, he was quoted as saying via translation by BBC Monitoring.

Drilling has taken nearly 20 years due in no small part to the nearly unlivable conditions at the bottom of the world. This is where the lowest ever temperature taken on the planet was; -89C in 1983. Lake Vostok is about the size of Lake Ontario and is in liquid form only because of the heat generated by the Earth's core. Furthermore, British scientists will start drilling into another lake under the Antarctic ice this year, called Ellsworth on the other side of the continent. Clues found in the ancient lakes could even give scientists ideas about what kind of underground lakes could be encased in ice on such planets as Jupiter's moon Europa. Start the slideshow to see the scientists at work on the Antarctic dig. Tell us in the comments what you think they'll find down there.  

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