Friday, January 7, 2011

Russian scientists to drill into underground lake sealed off 14M years ago

Lake Vostok in Antarctica is a subglacial lake about 4 kilometers (~2.5 miles to metric-haters) below the surface ice near the south pole. It was sealed off from the outside world by ice approximately 14 million years ago. In that time it (and its inhabitants if any) has believed to have had no contact with the outside environment. Wow that's a lot of "have" derivatives in one sentence, apologies.

Russian scientists plan to drill into i before the end of the Arctic summer. Attempts have been made several times and the bit itself lies within 100m of the lake threshold already. But contamination fears have always stopped progress at this point. Now a new technique has been established that should qualm those fears.

From the article:

"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." The next season, the team will bore into that frozen water to recover a sample whose contents can then be analysed.

One of the biggest reasons that Scientists argue the importance of obtaining samples from this source is due to its similarity of conditions on the moons Europa (Jupiter) and Enceladus (Saturn). They'd use data obtained from these samples to argue further towards the theory of extraterrestrial life. However didn't we establish that already, see below?

"Hey Tommy, my son is going to do a movie titled about Karate but instead do Kung Fu, nobody will notice right?"

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