While some scientists explore the surface of the Antarctic, others are learning more about a giant body of water -- four kilometers beneath the ice pack. Scientists first discovered Lake Vostok in the 1970s by using radio waves that penetrate the ice. Since then, they have used sound waves and even satellites to map this massive body of water. How does the water in Lake Vostok remained liquid beneath an ice sheet? “The thick glacier above acts like insulating blanket and keeps the water from freezing,” said ‪Martin Siegert, a glaciologist from the University of Wales. In addition, geothermal heat from deep within the earth may warm the hidden lake. The scientists suspect that microorganisms may be living in Lake Vostok, closed off from the outside world for more than two million years. Anything found that will be totally alien to what’s on the surface of the earth, said Siegert. Scientists are trying to find a way to drill into the ice and draw water samples without causing contamination. Again, robots might be the solution. If all goes as planned, a drill-shift robot will melt through the surface ice. When it reaches the lake, it will release another robot that can swim in the lake, take pictures and look for signs of life. The scientists hope that discoveries will shed light on life in outer space, which might exist in similar dark and airless conditions. Recently closed-up pictures of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, shows signs of water beneath the icy surface. Once tested the Antarctic, robots could be set to Europa to search for life there, too.


Q9: What did the scientists first use to discover Lake Vostok in the 1970s?

Q10: What did scientists think about Lake Vostok?

Q11: What do the scientists hope their discoveries will do?