In DepthPOLAR SCIENCE

Mysterious Antarctic lake will remain out of reach

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Science  30 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6260, pp. 494
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6260.494

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Summary

Budget cuts and a weak ruble have forced Russia to put on ice one of its highest profile science projects: a 20-year odyssey to drill into a lake under the Antarctic Ice Sheet in search of long-buried life. In 2012, the Russian Antarctic Expedition completed drilling through nearly 4 kilometers of ice to reach the surface of subglacial Lake Vostok. Subsequent expeditions have attempted to retrieve pristine samples of water from the lake in hopes of discovering life. Postponing the pricey effort for the current scientific season is a sign of hard times in Russia's broader Antarctic program. But some outside scientists, concerned about contamination, think it is time to rethink the complex project.

  • * With reporting by Vladimir Pokrovsky.