Sleeping beneath the ice.

Reuters reports on a Russian mission to reach an oxygen-rich lake that’s been untouched for 15 million years:

“It’s minus 40 (Celsius) outside,” [Alex] Turkeyev [of Vostok Station] said. “But whatever, we’re working. We’re feeling good. There’s only 5 meters left until we get to the lake so it’ll all be very soon.”

Scientists suspect the lake’s depths will reveal new life forms, show how the planet was before the ice age and how life evolved. It could offer a glimpse at what conditions for life exist in the similar extremes of Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa.

“It’s like exploring an alien planet where no one has been before. We don’t know what we’ll find,” said Valery Lukin of Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) in St Petersburg, which oversees the expedition.

Lake Vostok, deep under the ice, is the size of Lake Baikal, and supersaturated with oxygen. Anything could be down there.


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