For those of you who haven’t heard of Lake Vostok, it has been called “the most alien lake on Earth”. There was some fascinating news was released this afternoon.
Lake Vostok is a subglacial lake the size of Lake Ontario located 2.5 miles below sea level in the middle of Antarctica. It is estimated that the lake water lying beneath the ice has not been accessed in over 20 millions years! To put that in perspective, the largest mammal ever to walk the Earth, the ‘giraffe-rhino’ called a Paraceratherium was just going extinct at this time!
The lake was first discovered in 1996, and scientists have been trying to reach it for years. The project has been called off on numerous occasions due to fears of the drilling process technology polluting the lake, and the extreme, Mars-like temperatures faced in the heart of winter. But a group of Russian scientists, who recently were out of communication for over a week, have finally reached their target!
After navigating through 2.5 miles of ice, scientists believe that they may have uncovered sedimentary records that provide climate change records that can be found nowhere else on the planet! They are hoping to uncover new organisms that will dramatically change their view of Antarctica, and may provide some insight into what life could be like in outer space!
Just the sheer accomplishment of braving subzero temperatures and extreme conditions to reach this goal is mind-blowing. Not to mention the threat of the hole closing up while drilling, or any other unforeseen circumstances.
Mahlon Kennicutt II, a professor of oceanography at Texas A&M University who leads an Antarctic research group said, “Clues to how the planet may respond to the continuing impact of humans, particularly fossil fuel emissions and related climate change, are housed in the records of past climate change in Antarctica.”
I’m definitely going to be looking up the latest news on this every day. I’m really excited to see what kind of organisms and life they find in such a secluded place. You may recall that last year, scientists discovered ‘extremophiles’ living in some of the harshest conditions on earth, introducing a new species of life form based on sulphur when we thought oxygen was the only way! We as humans think we know everything but discoveries like this open the window to a whole new way of thinking.
UPDATE 11/23: Life may have been found in the bedrock surrounding the lake.
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