For the first time in nearly 20 million years, Lake Vostok in the Antarctic has reportedly made contact with the outside world.
This, according to a Russian news agency that reported that the two-decade long effort finally achieved its mission. “Yesterday, our scientists stopped drilling at the depth of 3,768 meters (12, 362 ft.) and reached the surface of the subglacial lake,” said an unnamed source.
The Daily Mail reports that geothermal heat under the ice keeps the lake liquid, and its conditions are often described as ‘alien’ because they are thought to be akin to the subterranean lakes on Jupiter’s moon Europa. The water inside the lake will have had no contact with man-made pollutants or Earthly life forms for millions of years.
In an effort to reduce the threat of contamination of the pristine world beneath the ice, the scientists are using a special drilling process to, in a way, make the samples come to them. PhysOrg.com explains saying: “When the drill reaches the lake, the water pressure will ‘push the working body and drilling fluid upwards in the borehole,’ where it will freeze. The researchers will then return during the next Antarctic summer to remove the frozen water for analysis.”
Courtesy of Scientific American (and Columbia University), check out this diagram of the buried lake below.