“After decades of drilling, Russian scientists in the arctic have uncovered a rare piece of nature, an ancient lake buried thousands of feet under the ice. RT’s Sean Thomas, toured the frozen continent exactly a year ago, and now explains what this discovery could mean.”

Lake Vostok, Sealed in Antarctic Ice, Reached by Russian Drillers

Two and a half miles beneath Antarctica‘s ice lies Lake Vostok, a mysterious body of water, 160 miles long and 30 miles wide, that is believed to have been sealed off from the rest of the world for 20 million years….

Lake Vostok, seen so far only on radar, is believed to be warmed by geothermal energy. But why drill to it, beyond feeling the tug of mystery?

“According to our research, the quantity of oxygen there exceeds that on other parts of our planet by 10 to 20 times. Any life forms that we find are likely to be unique on Earth,” said Sergey Bulat, the chief scientist of Russia’s Antarctic Expedition, as quoted by Russian Reporter magazine.

There are other scientists who are doubtful. Too much oxygen, they argue, could actually be toxic to life. So Lake Vostok could turn out to be unique — the first place found on Earth where there is water in liquid form but nothing living.

This could have implications for the search for life elsewhere in the solar system. Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus have both been seen by NASA probes to have icy crusts, but, apparently, enough heat from inside to raise at least the possibility of hidden oceans. Europa in particular has been hopefully labeled as a possible home for extraterrestrial life. Space scientists would like to know a lot more about them. Could Lake Vostok, half a billion miles closer, offer clues as to what lies beyond, in the cold reaches of space?

The Russians, despite the cold, despite limited money for scientific research, have been drilling down toward Lake Vostok for 14 years now. What will they find in the water there?