Lost Life Found Deep Beneath Antarctica?

Cells containing DNA have been found deep beneath Antarctica’s ice. But the most important question still needs to be answered…are they still alive? Here’s more from Crux Guest Blogger at Discover:

The search continues for life in subglacial Lake Whillans, 2,600 feet below the surface of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet—but a thrilling preliminary result has detected signs of life. At 6:20am on January 28, four people in sterile white Tyvek suits tended to a winch winding cable onto the drill platform. One person knocked frost off the cable as it emerged from the ice borehole a few feet below. The object of their attention finally rose into sight: a gray plastic vessel, as long as a baseball bat, filled with water from Lake Whillans, half a mile below.

The bottle was hurried into a 40-foot cargo container outfitted as a laboratory on skis. Some of the lake water was squirted into bottles of media in order to grow whatever microbes might inhabit the lake. Those cultures could require weeks to produce results. But one test has already produced an interesting preliminary finding. When lake water was viewed under a microscope, cells were seen: their tiny bodies glowed green in response to DNA-sensitive dye. It was the first evidence of life in an Antarctic subglacial lake…

(See the rest at Discover)

Lake Vostok: Hitler’s Secret Antarctica Base?

For over twenty years, Russian scientists have attempted to break through some two miles of ice and breach the surface of Lake Vostok. Recently, the Russian expedition seemingly vanished. Now, it has reappeared and reports of success are running rampant. What did the expedition find? Nothing at all? New lifeforms? A Nazi submarine complete with Hitler’s corpse?

The Lost World of Lake Vostok?

Lake Vostok has been sealed off from the outside world for somewhere between 400,000 to 20 million years. It remains liquid due to heavy pressure from the ice as well as geothermal heat. Lake Vostok constitutes an extreme environment, not too dissimilar from what one might expect to find underneath the ice on Mars or Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Researchers are hopeful they will find new lifeforms (probably microbial in nature) within its waters.

Lake Vostok = Secret Nazi Base?

However, at least one source is suggesting a different possibility. RIA Novosti is the state-owned Russian news agency that broke the story of the expedition’s success. In its report, RIA Novosti discussed a theory that the Nazis built a secret base in the region. It also mentioned other Antarctica-based rumors: Nazi relics…secret files…and even the corpses of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun which were apparently being set aside for…you guessed it…cloning purposes.

The odds of the Russian expedition discovering Nazi artifacts in the vicinity of Lake Vostok are beyond low. Still, it’s not completely out of the question. The Nazis explored Antarctica in 1939 and were interested in building a naval base in the region. Also, several Nazi submarines, notably the U-977, escaped immediate capture after the war. The activities of these subs remain shrouded in mystery. Here’s more on the Nazi speculation at Lake Novosti from RIA Novosti:

It is thought that towards the end of the Second World War, the Nazis moved to the South Pole and started constructing a base at Lake Vostok. In 1943, Grand Admiral Karl Dontiz was quoted saying “Germany’s submarine fleet is proud that it created an unassailable fortress for the Fuehrer on the other end of the world,” in Antarctica.

According to German naval archives, months after Germany surrendered to the Allies in April, 1945, the German submarine U-530 arrived at the South Pole from the Port of Kiel. Crewmembers constructed an ice cave and supposedly stored several boxes of relics from the Third Reich, including Hitler’s secret files.

It is also rumored that later the submarine U-977 delivered the remains of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun to Antarctica for DNA cloning purposes…

(See the rest on Nazi speculation at Lake Novosti from RIA Novosti)

Raiders of the Lost Lake Vostok?

As we reported yesterday, the Russian expedition to Lake Vostok has seemingly vanished into thin air. Now, we’re just 24 hours away from the looming winter deadline…and lethal temperatures of -90° centigrade. So, what’s the latest news on the expedition?

The Mysterious Lake Vostok?

As you may recall, Lake Vostok has been covered with ice for at least 400,000 years and possibly as long as 20 million years. Despite the chilly temperatures, it remains liquid thanks to heavy pressure from the ice overhang as well as geothermal heat. For quite some time time now, the Russian expedition has been attempting to safely breach the ice and take mankind’s first look into this “lost world.”

By mid-January, the Russians were using a thermal drill to churn through close to 6 feet of ice per day. At that point, they believed they were just 40 feet from breaching Lake Vostok’s surface. However, the team mysteriously broke off contact in late January, leading to questions about their whereabouts.

The Russian Team Surfaces?

According to an unknown source in contact with RIA Novosti, the team has finally reestablished contact with the outside world. While details remain skimpy, the source claimed the scientists “stopped drilling at the depth of 3,768 meters and reached the surface of the sub-glacial lake.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

If true, this would be gigantic news. Lake Vostok could contain new types of undiscovered life – life that might exist “in similar extreme conditions on Mars and Jupiter’s moon, Europa.”

However, the drilling procedures are difficult and there is a very real possibility of contamination when the drill breaches the surface. We’ll keep you abreast on the latest updates as they become available. In the meantime, here’s more background on Lake Vostok from the Daily Mail:

The scientific community is holding its breath for a team of Russian scientists that has not made contact with colleagues in the U.S for seven days, as they drill into a lake buried beneath the Antarctic ice for 20 million years.

The group has to evacuate its station by Tuesday – when winter kicks in and temperatures start to drop to an inhospitable minus 90C.

There has been no contact with the explorers for seven days and they have under 48 hours to make an escape from the icy depths before temperatures fall to deadly levels. There are fears that while hunting for new life forms they have been lost in the unwelcoming terrain…

(See the rest on the mysterious Lake Vostok at Daily Mail)

The Mystery of Lake Vostok?

Antarctica’s Lake Vostok has been covered with miles of ice for 20 million years. Now, just as it’s on the verge of being breached, something has gone wrong. The team of Russian scientists behind the operation has disappeared, vanishing into thin air.

Lake Vostok & the Missing Russian Team?

Eight days have gone by without radio contact and now, time is drawing thin. On February 6, temperatures around Lake Vostok are expected to drop an astonishing 40 degrees centigrade. Researchers are optimistic the Russian team is merely experiencing poor cellular reception or perhaps has already packed up and left for home. On a darker level, a drilling accident also seems plausible.

“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.” ~ Discover Magazine, 80 Beats Blog

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, what happened to the Russian team? Nothing at all? A drilling accident at Lake Vostok? An ancient dinosaur rising from the depths? The unleashing of a vicious plague? (Well, okay those last two seem pretty unlikely…). Here’s more on the mystery of Lake Vostok from Fox News:

The world holds its breath, hoping for the best after six days of radio silence from Antarctica — where a team of Russian scientists is racing the clock and the oncoming winter to dig to an alien lake far beneath the ice.

The team from Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) have been drilling for weeks in an effort to reach isolated Lake Vostok, a vast, dark body of water hidden 13,000 ft. below the surface of the icy continent. Lake Vostok hasn’t been exposed to air in more than 20 million years.

The team’s last contact with colleagues in the unfrozen world was six long days ago, and scientists from around the globe are unsure of the fate of the mission — and the scientists themselves — as Antarctica’s killing winter draws near…

(See the rest on Lake Vostok at Fox News)