Russian scientists have drilled into Antarctica’s Lake Vostok:
After 30 years spent drilling through a four-kilometer-thick ice crust, researchers have finally broken through to a unique subglacial lake. Scientists are set to reveal its 20-million-year-old secrets, and imitate a quest to discover ET life.
The Vostok project breathes an air of mystery and operates at the frontiers of human knowledge. The lake is one of the major discoveries in modern geography; drilling operations at such depths are unprecedented; never before has a geological project required such subtle technologies.
The BBC is sniffy about whether or not the achievement has actually occurred, but that may be sour grapes as the Russkies were in a bit of a race with a British team drilling in another area, Lake Ellsworth. The Brits have a history of placing second in races around Gaia’s bottom parts, but that’s another story.
The news that Team Vlad impaled Vostok is exciting, because no-one has a clue what’s down there. New life forms, new minerals, Elvis? Who knows what might be found under more than 2 miles of ice? Whatever it is had better be resistant to kerosene though, or it’ll be a short-lived hi and goodbye meeting.
Drilling into the lake isn’t an entirely risk-free notion:
The lake is known to have quite a bit of gas in it, like a carbonated soda, which could lead to a catastrophic geyser shooting up up out of the borehole when the drill finally hits water. If that happened, the lake could lose a quarter of its water and the weather above Antarctica could be altered, due to the sudden influx of water vapor into the air.
Assuming the pristine waters of Vostok don’t explode into the sky and can cope with a little pollution, scientists hope that what they find will give an insight into the sort of things that might be able to live on Europa, a Jupiter moon covered in ice. Which is exciting science, not the dreary climate sort made up by follicly-challenged chubby men counting tree rings.
Good luck to the Russian team as they delve the depths of Vostok, but, just in case things go wrong – I, for one, welcome our new ice-lizard overlords.