Lake Vostok soon to be penetrated
UPDATE 10 Feb: Drilling this year stopped on 5th Feb at 3720.47 metres – just 29.53 metres short. The Russians will resume again in Dec 2011.
Lake Vostok, which lies 4 km underneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, has remained isolated for the last 14 million years. However, Russian scientists are now ~100 m away from drilling through the ice-water boundary. In order to sample the lake’s water and discover what lifeforms live therein, the Russians have developed a sophisticated method that will avoid polluting this pristine environment. Time is running out though to complete drilling by the end of this Antarctic season, and results will take another year at least. With oxygen levels in the lake 50 times higher than normal, who knows what organisms could have evolved.
Mysteries of Lake Vostok on brink of discovery [New Scientist]
Photo: National Science Foundation
(Thanks to Jono for pointing this story out to me…)