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?

Lake Vostok Station

Panoramic view of Vostok Station. The striped building on the left is the power station. The striped building on the right is the living quarters. The structure topped by the red- and white-striped ball is the meteorology building.
Attribution: Todd Sowers, LDEO, Columbia University, Palisades, New York
Source: Wikimedia Commons

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)

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