Last year, Russian scientists successfully drilled into Lake Vostok in Antarctica, a subglacial lake that has been sealed away for 20 million years.
Given that it’s been hidden for so long, separated from the rest of the world, many believe it may hold unique microbial life. If it does, this will vastly increase the probability that we may find life in the subsurface oceans of moons like Jupiter’s Europa.
While scientists were able to retrieve some water samples last year before heading back in the face of an Antarctic winter, they were unsure if these samples were truly from the lake below, or simply from the surface glacier.
This month, however, they returned to Lake Vostok for an actual sample.
“The first core of transparent lake ice, 2 meters long, was obtained on January 10 at a depth of 3,406 meters. Inside it was a vertical channel filled with white bubble-rich ice…”
Previously, scientists working at Lake Vida actually did uncover living microbes, which had waited patiently under the ice for some 2,800 years. While extraordinary in its own right, however, this discovery would likely be overshadowed by the discovery of microbes at Lake Vostok, given the incredible amount of time we’re looking at.
What will these findings at Lake Vostok bring? Nothing but water? Evidence of microbial life from 20 million years ago? That worm thing from episode eight of the X-Files?
Whatever the case, I’m still waiting to hear about that Nazi bunker…