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Scientists seeking to drill deep beneath Antarctica announce that deeply-buried Lake Vostok is within their reach. Russian drill specialists say that they have only 100 meters of depth to cover, and that the amazing, sealed lake will be reached this year, or in 2011 at the latest.
The lake was most likely sealed off by the ice millions of years ago, and researchers are keen on learning how life evolved in this secluded environment, The St. Petersburg Times announces.
“This anomaly is so large that it cannot be the product of a daily change in the magnetic field,” stated Michael Studinger, one of the researchers involved in the mapping endeavor.
Some scientist have speculated that there could be gases trapped in there that could harm our environment. Another “Gulf of Mexico” Like disaster?
Using much less technical language, others noted that Mason’s explanation matched the hypothesis suggested by Prof. Thomas Gold in Australia’s Nexus magazine. According to Professor Gold, the amount of methane and exotic gases such as xenon and argon could represent a direct threat to global climate, since they would come directly from the Earth’s mantle using the geological features under Lake Vostok as “chimneys.”
Scientists are desperate to get into the lake because its extreme environment may be home to unique flora and fauna, never seen before, and NASA are excited by what it could teach us about extraterrestrial life. But 4 kilometers of ice stand between the lake and the surface, and breaking this seal without contaminating the most pristine body of water on the planet is possibly one of the greatest challenges science faces in the 21st century.