Posted Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, at 3:59 PM
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.
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.