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'It's like exploring another planet': Russians reach Antarctic lake in scientific coup

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posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 09:09 PM

'It's like exploring another planet': Russians reach Antarctic lake in scientific coup

After more than two decades of drilling in Antarctica, Russian scientists have reached a gigantic freshwater lake hidden under miles of ice for about 20 million years - a pristine body of water that may hold life from the distant past and clues to the search for life on other planets.

Finally touching the surface of Lake Vostok, the largest of nearly 400 subglacial lakes in Antarctica, is a major discovery avidly anticipated by scientists around the world.
(visit the link for the full news article)

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 09:09 PM

The Russian team hit the lake on Sunday at a depth of 3769 metres about 1300 kilometres south-east of the South Pole in the central part of the continent.

Scientists hope the lake may allow a glimpse into microbial life forms that existed before the Ice Age and are not visible to the naked eye. Scientists believe that microbial life may exist in the dark depths of the lake despite its high pressure and constant cold - conditions similar to those expected to be found under the ice crust on Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus.

Lukin said Russia had waited for several years for international approval of its drilling technology before proceeding to reach the lake. He said about 1.5 cubic metres of kerosene and freon poured up to the surface tanks from the boreshaft, proof that the lake water streamed up from underneath, froze and then blocked the hole, sealing off the chance that any toxic chemicals could contaminate.

Russian scientists will remove the frozen sample for analysis in December when the next Antarctic summer season comes. They reached the lake just before they had to leave at the end of the Antarctic summer, as plunging temperatures halted air links.

I have been following this story for a few years now. It is exciting to see they have finally reached the bottom and we can now begin to test some of our theories on life evolving in hostile climates. While I don't expect to find any alien ships down there, I certainly wouldn't complain if they did
(visit the link for the full news article)
edit on 8/2/2012 by Kryties because: Added extra snippet explaining they will go back in December

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 09:22 PM
LOL, if they did find any ships not of earth, we wouldn't hear of it.

I am very relieved they are alive (after the weird blackout).

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 09:39 PM
It's both exciting...and a lil' scary at the same time. One of the very--if not "the"--last of the unexplored vivarium we call Earth.

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 09:50 PM
This is exciting, but still i think pathetic that we as a race do not have the technology to stay there during the winter comfortably or even to send an unmanned vehicle down into the lake to explore.

I feel like we are still at the same place we where when they first started drilling 20 years ago. Am I stupid to think why cant we just have a vehicle that heats up to 500 degrees melts its way down to the lake lowering its temp when it gets close and then goes for a swim, while sending up images and video. Not drilling a hole with kerosene and waiting to take a sample of refrozen lake water, so lame.

Humanities technology and or drive still fails in so many regards considering its 2012. imho

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 09:53 PM
Any exitement from this event quickly vanishes when you realise anything of slight importance or discovery will be covered up FOREVER.

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 09:56 PM
Well Congrats to the russians,they finally did it. wonder what kind of fish that may reside, maybe some giant prehistoric ones can't wait but for that matter i really doubt that we will ever know if anything interesting such as history altering events like hard true fact about previous advance ancients civilizations but I may wonder why would it take decades to drill through about four kilometres of ice when we have the technology to dig tunnels in granite rock mountains for many kilometres in just a few years? why could they not just heat the drill bit to solve the refreezing problem it would have been a hot knife through butter.instead of using kerosene and freon further risking the contamination.

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 10:00 PM
I hope they share their true findings with the rest of us... probably not!

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 10:03 PM
reply to post by paperface

Rest assured my friend, you will have a smorgasbord of false stories posted on ATS to whet your appetite and keep you entertained...

Matter of fact there's plenty already.

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 10:30 PM
reply to post by Kryties

Wow this is really amazing! Maybe they'll find ol' Adolph and the boy's down their HaHa! On a serious note though i honestly do believe that any great effort like this by science will eventually be rewarding on some level that will most likely benefit all of humanity, and that's good enough for me! Good post kryties, thanks!

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 10:44 PM
I'm thinking waterproof handicam and lot's of fishing line lol. Would love to see some actual video footage of what it looks like down there. Live streaming anyone?

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 11:12 PM
reply to post by Desolate Cancer

Well Desolate cancer even though i somewhat know where your coming from and i really do, you have to understand that we actually are not quite their with technology yet. At least in the public domain or main stream sci community, our battery's are not that good yet as to last for years let alone decades of the melting down and then take an observant swim as you claim, that tech feat would be quite the achievement even by today's standards.

And being as we are speaking of a solar deprived environment that this supposed self sufficient little melting/swimming/observing devise would be in the space telescopes/ISS power option is out, the only other alternative would be to hard wire it but that would take a high voltage and amperage output when at the lower depths to accommodate for the voltage drop because of the high resistance and Amp loss in such a long cable, not to mention the constant monitoring that would be needed to keep the voltage constant would probably be a real pain in the balls! And so i don't think that method would be as energy efficient as what the highly skilled, dedicated and i'm sure pretty darn intelligent scientific team that has been working for 20+ years on this has come to realize and that they have used the overall best method of achieving there goal that was available to them.

Aw well that's just my two or three cents though and what the hell do i know i am just a stupid jarhead with an opinion is all! Peace my brotha!

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 11:44 PM
reply to post by Kryties

What could be controversial?

I was reading this yesterday...


The drilling project has been opposed by some environmental groups and scientists who have argued that hot-water drilling would do less environmental damage. The Russians explained that hot-water drilling required more power than they could generate at their remote camp.

Scientists of the United States National Research Council have taken the position that it should be assumed that microbial life exists in Lake Vostok and that after such a long isolation, any life forms in the lake require strict protection from contamination.

Sediments on its floor should give clues to its long-term climate, and isotopes in its water are expected to help geologists determine how and when subglacial lakes such as Lake Vostok form. Meticulously documented decontamination procedures will be required to establish the credibility of the scientific data obtained.
The original drilling technique employed by the Russians involved the use of Freon and kerosene to lubricate the borehole and prevent it from collapsing and freezing over; 60 tons of these chemicals have been used thus far on the ice above Lake Vostok.

Other countries, particularly the United States and Britain, have failed to persuade the Russians not to pierce to the lake until cleaner technologies such as hot-water drilling are available.
Though the Russians claim to have improved their operations, they continue to use the same borehole, which has already been filled with kerosene. According to the head of Russian Antarctic Expeditions, Valery Lukin, new equipment was developed by researchers at the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute that would ensure the lake remains uncontaminated upon intrusion.

Lukin has repeatedly reassured other signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty System that the drilling will not affect the lake, arguing that on breakthrough, water will rush up the borehole, freeze, and seal the chemical fluids out.

Environmentalist pressure groups remain unconvinced by these arguments.

The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition has argued that this manner of drilling is a profoundly misguided step which endangers Lake Vostok itself and also other subglacial lakes in Antarctica (which some scientists are convinced are inter-linked with Lake Vostok).

The coalition has asserted that "it would be far preferable to join with other countries to penetrate a smaller and more isolated lake before re-examining whether penetration of Lake Vostok is environmentally defensible. If we are wise, the Lake will be allowed to reveal its secrets in due course."

edit on 8-2-2012 by newcovenant because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 11:53 PM
I wonder if there could be a food source...regardless of what they find, I do think we will learn something new about our past.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 12:33 AM
When we went to the bottom of the Marianas Trench so much silt was stirred up they couldn't see anything. So they dumped the thousands of gallons of gasoline in the ballast tanks into that environment so they could resurface.

Anything that was alive, surely died when we dumped all that gasoline down there.

They used kerosene to keep the deep hole they were drilling from freezing shut in the Antarctic Lake. So when they poked through finally, all that kerosene hit the most pristene fresh water reservoir on Earth. Anything that WAS alive now likely DEAD.

A fully robotic rover with an artificial intelligence/program with its own drilling head and Plutonium 238 heat source/nuclear battery could have drilled down there...taken a sample/pictures...and came back. Without contaminating that environment. The rush to use the kerosene route is likely because they expect the water to be heavy water they plan on using on future generation nuclear power plants. It's a gold mine.
edit on 9-2-2012 by Pervius because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 03:38 AM

Originally posted by Pervius

They used kerosene to keep the deep hole they were drilling from freezing shut in the Antarctic Lake. So when they poked through finally, all that kerosene hit the most pristene fresh water reservoir on Earth. Anything that WAS alive now likely DEAD.

Actually, if you read the article it states that the Russians claimed that a Kerosene/Freon mix burst back out of the pipe when they drilled through, meaning that none of the chemicals entered the lake, rather they were pushed back up the hole due to the underlying pressure.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 05:15 AM
I think the russians should fk off and destroy their own part of the world.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Originally posted by Kryties

The Russian team hit the lake on Sunday at a depth of 3769 metres about 1300 kilometres south-east of the South Pole in the central part of the continent....

How can there be a place SOUTH east of the south pole? Wouldn't North be the only direction from the South pole? Sorry for this, but it just jumped at me.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 10:38 AM
reply to post by Blastoff

Good point lol.

Perhaps the writer was looking at a flat map and forgot about that small point?

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 10:44 AM
Just some thoughts to consider:

Over the last year at Camp Vostok we have witnessed a change in the scientific procedures. The main change and concern has been the "Rush" to reach this subglacial lake. As scientists, I'm sure they would brush off this consideration as no problem at all. They would most likely respond by saying that they were now "super focused" not careless because we were so close. But along with the rush to be first, there is the nagging question of not considering the consquences. Scientists continue to be deluded by this elaborate line of bull#. That is, they are seeking to know the truth about nature and the origin of our species. But in reality, that is not what drives them. They are not driven by abstractions like the search for truth. If they were so inclined, they would never have left that borehole open to the elements until next year. In fact they would have never drilled into these unknown relms utilizing such crude techniques.

Let's face the facts. They are more preoccupied with accomplishments then they are with pure science. It seems that they have never stopped to ask if they should do this in the first place (drilling thousands of meters below frozen Antarctic tundra to open up an enourmous subglacial lake). Pure scientific discovery is always extremely aggressive and almost always changes the world afterwards. Scientific discovery usually results in the rape of the natural world. We leave behind scars in the earth, pollution in our oceans, radioactive waste, space junk and the list goes on.

According to press releases, the Russian team stated that they were able to pump out all the keresene and other solvents and that the lake water rushed up the well and froze forming a plug. Next year they plan on taking samples of the lake water. It seems to me that there are still alot of unasswered questions.
Such as;

1. Won't they have to re-drill into the lake water next year to launch a probe or take a sample?
2. Are they certain that they have not contaminated the site (above and below)?
3. Did they release any gases or other contaminents into the atmosphere?
4. What if they found life forms?
5. What if they found intelligent life?
6. Why was this lake buried so deep?
7. What if humans were not meant to touch or expose this lake to the surrounding environment?
8. Are they certain that the site is stable?
9. Could acess to this lake cause an environmental paradigm shift?
10. Will access effect the lake temperature and environment?

This is just a sample of the hundreds of questions that still remain unanswered.
I don't know about you, but I feel a little queasy about the unpredictability factor going on here.


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