Russians Drill Through Ice to Untouched Antarctic Lake

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Feb. 6 2012 3:59 PM

Russians Drill Through Ice to Untouched Antarctic Lake

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(The Dry Valley region of Antarctica in Jan. 2009.)

Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom are racing to see who can reach an ancient lake buried two and a half miles beneath Antarctica's ice.

The 14-million-year-old Lake Vostok has been sealed off from the surface of the earth for millennia, and holds water that could also be ancient—flowing between a network of subglacial lakes.

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As such, the body of water, which is roughly the same size as Lake Ontario, may be home to cold-loving organisms that have developed unique evolutionary devices. While the Russians are extremely close to breaking through with a thermal drill, they won't be able to sample the water until late 2012.

That’s great and everything, but didn’t we learn anything about disturbing the secrets of the Antarctic continent from movies like The Thing and Alien Vs. Predator?

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.