Life Miles Down at Vostok Station

Elsewhere in Antarctica, it was the possibility of life deep down in the ice that attracted world-wide attention. Out in the middle of nowhere, close to what's nicknamed "the pole of inaccessibility", is Russia's Vostok (or "East") Station.

As you can see from these new satellite views, Vostok sits on top of a submerged lake of liquid water. That's what's creating the dark radar echo.

Image courtesy of NASA/CSA Radarsat

Image courtesy of David Karl,
University of Hawaii

For many years the Russians have been drilling one of the deepest ice cores in the world here-almost 2 miles in length-in search of clues to past climate. Now, realizing they were about to break into an untouched lake that might preserve life forms dating from millions of years ago, drilling has stopped, and the international community is debating how to proceed.

Researchers have already found these bacteria in the ice core itself, just above the lake, in what's thought to be re-frozen lake water. Stay tuned (via the Internet) for news about life from what's truly the "deep" past!


 • LAKE VOSTOK : A Curiosity or a Focus for Interdisciplinary Study?
The final report of a study on Lake Vostok
 • Bacteria May Thrive in Antarctic Lake
This article describes how two research teams have discovered that bacteria may live thousands of meters below the Antarctic ice sheet.
 • Bacteria in Lake Vostok
This article describes a study where scientists found evidence of bacteria at a depth of 3,590 meters in the Antarctic ice.
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