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After drilling for two decades through more than two miles of antarctic ice, Russian scientists are on the verge of entering a vast, dark lake that hasn’t been touched by light for more than 20 million years.
Scientists are enormously excited about what life-forms might be found there but are equally worried about contaminating the lake with drilling fluids and bacteria, and the potentially explosive “de-gassing” of a body of water that has especially high concentrations of oxygen and nitrogen.
"Antarctica: Joint Inspection US and Russian Federation".
Tuesday, 24 January 2012, 9:31 am
Press Release: US State Department
Office of the Spokesperson
January 21, 2012
The United States and the Russian Federation will send a joint team to inspect foreign stations, installations and equipment in Antarctica from January 23 to January 28, 2012. The inspection will be conducted pursuant to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and its Environmental Protocol. The State Department and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will co-lead the inspection, which is the first joint inspection conducted by either country.
Valery Lukin , who is leading the effort for the Russians, is on the ice. Last year, he told Reuters that their work is “like exploring an alien planet where no one has been before. We don’t know what we’ll find.”
Originally posted by Chance321
reply to post by Arken
Not really sure what to feel about this. It's . . interesting. But, here's the part that I'm a little leary of, the scientist are worried about contaminating the lake from the drill bit, but I'd be more concerned with the possibility of releasing something into the air that could have an effect on man. Hasn't seen light in 20 million years? Who really knows what they may release into the air? Probably nothing, but still it should be a consideration, shouldn't it?
Early research into Lake Vostok indicated that the body of water had a depth of 2,000 feet�far deeper than any of the Great Lakes and half as deep as Asia�s Lake Baikal (5,000 feet)�a length of 300 miles and a width of 50 miles.
Contrary to what was initially believed, the lake received filtered light. Further investigations also detected the existence of geothermal sources which warmed the lake to an astonishing 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with �hot spots� of up to 65 degrees.
Given these new discoveries regarding solar radiation and temperature, scientists suggested the possibility that the lake�s encapsulated atmosphere purified itself through a complex interaction with water, and that the chances for vegetable life forms were very good.
Research conducted by Russian scientist Ian Toskovoi�who vanished near the Vostok station in March 2000�on �geothermal upboiling� also hinted at an alternative means of purification and replenishment for the subterranean lake�s atmosphere. Toskovoi�s geothermal upboils were located in the so-called �ice dunes,� which appear to be formed by thousands of bubbles of air measuring between several feet to several hundred feet.
However, the most intriguing news coming out of Antarctica had to do with the extremely powerful �magnetic anomaly� located in the northern end of the lake�s coast: a discovery which would give rise to a number of conjectures and would be compared with the fictional TMA-1 (Tycho Magnetic Anomaly-1) in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Originally posted by Flavian
reply to post by Ophiuchus 13
Still, they have to look. It is what we humans do - we would never have got to space without that attitude.