Drill deep or stay home, right? Russian scientists have been busy drilling another record-breaking borehole, this time through 2 miles (3.7 kilometers) of ice covering Lake Vostok, a prehistoric subglacial water mass in the Antarctic. Although the feat of drilling the borehole is an impressive accomplishment on its own (on top of the technical complexity, strict environmental regulations are in place so as to avoid polluting the area), what researchers have discovered living under the ice is what has everyone’s attention.
After a botched drill attempt in 2012 that contaminated samples, in 2015 scientists were successful in obtaining specimens that show Lake Vostok has its very own ecosystem of microorganisms that have developed and adapted to the many environmental extremes of the region. While fascinating for the study of life on Earth, these discoveries might also play a key role as mankind continues its quest for life in space.
Story by Jay Moon