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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Drills finally reach ancient, pristine Lake Vostok

...drilling through over 2 miles of solid ice...

It took scientists a few decades of hard work, but they finally drilled down to Lake Vostok, in the middle of Antarctica.  Lake Vostok is a fresh-water lake, about the size of Lake Ontario, that's been under ice for somewhere between 15-million and 34-million years.

Russian scientists finally reached Lake Vostok, drilling in the coldest spot on earth, through over two miles of solid ice (12,366 feet to be precise). Despite this being the end of the Antarctic summer, temperatures reached minus 45 degrees (f). The site is idle now due to the cold, but scientists will return next summer to reopen the bore hole and test the pristine water.

If simple, basic life exists in these conditions, it holds hope for finding life within ice formations in other parts of the universe.

On a similar subject, Russian scientists have "revived" a growing plant from a frozen seed about 31,800 years old found in Siberia. This holds promiuse for varities of grains and so on, thought to have disappeared forever.

The seed, from the Pliestocene ara, was probably buried by an Arctic Ground Squirrel in permafrost, and the area was never thawed or cultivated. The plant, a Narrow-leafed Campion thought to be extinct, is now happily flowering.

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