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Vostok: Looking for Life Beneath an Antarctic Glacier

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posted on Dec, 20 2002 @ 10:13 AM
In what may be the world's largest lake ever seen by a human eye, the search begins

Imagine for a moment that you are a strange device called a cryobot. You are a glint in an ocean of snow. You plunge into a hole in the Antarctic ice sheet, drilled by boiling water, and sink rapidly nearly two and a half miles to the bottom of the ice shaft. The pressure crushes in on you in the utter darkness as you purify yourself with a hydrogen peroxide rinse to kill off any surface microbes. At last you reach your destination, your cargo door opens and you release a smaller probe, a hydrobot. Its propeller revs, and it disappears into the gloom on a mission to explore one of our planet's last great virgin territories: Lake Vostok.

One of at least 76 subglacial lakes recently discovered on that southernmost continent, Vostok is an intriguing proposition for scientists as they ponder how to get down to and explore its stygian depths. This lake, which is capped by ice but does not freeze solid because of heat rising from the Earth's interior, is especially tantalizing because new evidence suggests that life just might exist in its depths. Even more significant, planetary scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory say that Vostok bears an uncanny resemblance to the Jovian moon Europa, which recent spacecraft images suggest is covered by an ocean topped by a rind of ice. JPL scientists are already designing the technology that would one day explore lakes such as Vostok and the ocean on Europa.

The size of Lake Vostok is indicated by the bean-shaped outline at right center in this composite satellite image of Antarctica.


posted on Dec, 21 2002 @ 01:16 AM
If there is life down there there is a HUGE chance that there is also on jupiter's moons.

posted on Dec, 22 2002 @ 10:07 AM
Yes necro, as it points out in the article, although its not really as 'HUGE' as your caps may have us think, Europa still is a rather different proposition to lake vostok.

posted on Dec, 25 2002 @ 12:38 AM
anyone know what the temperatures are down there?

posted on Jan, 2 2006 @ 07:36 PM
I was just talking to one of my buddies about this the other day.

My personal opinion is they're going to find abundant life down there, but I don't know enough about biology to know what to expect. Maybe someone with a biology background could shed some light on this...

What kind of life would we reasonably expect to find? Will it be microbial only or can we expect to find more complex organisms down there? We already know life can exist at the deepest, darkest depths with virtually no sunlight at all, but would there be enough food down there for prehistoric fish to exist, or would that have died out long ago?

This is all very interesting to me since I'm a proponent of the "life is everywhere" school of thought.

posted on Jan, 3 2006 @ 11:35 AM
Well, I don't think there gonna find any larger creatures down there, just some special plants and some small aquatic creatures, maybe with bioluminescense(sp?).

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