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February 7, 2012
Russian scientists reached after more than three decades of drilling the surface of Lake Vostok is located about 3,800 meters under the Antarctic ice cap could save traces of ancient organisms.
An official Roshidromet, Russian agency meteorology and environmental monitoring, confirmed that the explorers reached the surface of Lake Vostok but gave no further details.
The base Vostok, the coldest place on earth where they have been recorded up to 90 degrees below zero.
Lake Vostok is about 35 million years and for 15 million years remained virtually isolated from the atmosphere and the surface biosphere.
The study of its unique ecosystem will help to outline a dash of natural climate changes over the next millennia. It will also help understand how different life forms on Earth were adapted to extreme conditions.
Soviet scientists began drilling works in the area in the 1970s as part of a program of paleoclimatic studies.
At that time ignorant of even the existence of Lake Vostok was discovered in 1996, with the help of British researchers.
In 1998, when there were about 130 meters to the lake surface, the drilling was suspended at the request of the international community for lack of a technology that could minimize the possible contamination of water.
The Mining Institute of St. Petersburg developed a special know-how for frozen samples without contaminating the lake water and the Antarctic Treaty signatory countries agreed in 2003 Russia's proposals on the matter. Two years later, construction of deep-drilling resumed.
Drilling was started 20 years ago, with temperatures up to 30 degrees below zero and working only 4 months a year (during the "Antarctic summer") until a wall of ice drilled from no more and no less than 3,748 meters thick .
Researchers hope to find microorganisms completely different and hope to dip a specialized robot for taking samples without affecting the ecosystem 15 million years.
The discovery will allow scientists to study the strange ways of life in the lake to survive the cold and lack of sunshine, which could give us more clues about possible extraterrestrial life on celestial bodies frozen, such as Europe, one of the satellites of gas giant Jupiter.
The next thing is to leave the area due to winter and back for samples in November 2012. Later, between 2013 and 2014, is expected to dip a robot to explore the depths of the lake also.