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The drill bit currently sits less than 100 metres above the lake. Once it reaches 20-30 metres, the mechanical drill bit will be replaced with a thermal lance that's equipped with a camera. Time is short, however. It's possible that the drillers won't be able to reach the water before the end of the current Antarctic summer, and they'll need to wait another year before the process can continue.
The AARI's Valery Lukin says they have devised a clever method for sampling the lake without contaminating it. "Once the lake is reached, the water pressure will push the working body and the drilling fluid upwards in the borehole, and then freeze again," Lukin says. The following season, the team will go back to bore in that frozen water, take the sample out and analyse its contents.