… And life.
Sure, microbial life, but life nonetheless. Lake Whillans, part of the Whillans Ice Stream, to be found at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, has been reached and sampled a little less than two weeks ago.
Now, researchers of the WISSARD team report the presence of microscopic life in the samples. Remarkable, since the lake has been covered with an 800m thick layer of ice. And has been sealed off for maybe millions of years.
The samples are currently being investigated thoroughly, in order to make sure that the tiny critters are not the result of contamination due to the drilling process, and to get some more detail about the composition of the community.
It might be interesting to compare it with the microbial community for Lake Vida, which was announced a couple of months ago. What discoveries such as these could mean for the possibility of life in extreme environments (including extraterrestrial ones), is briefly discussed in a previous post concerning the aforementioned Lake Vida life.
Meanwhile, samples from the larger Lake Vostok have, as of yet, not yielded any signs of life…
The saga goes on.
Priscu, J., Powell, R., & Tulaczyk, S. (2010). Probing Subglacial Environments Under the Whillans Ice Stream Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 91 (29), 253-254 DOI: 10.1029/2010EO290002