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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