Earlier this year, NASA successfully bored a 2,600-foot hole through an Antarctic glacier's ice in their quest to reach its sub-glacial lake -- a feat that took three days in and of itself. Next, they sent a camera down and have recently released the first footage of what the lake below the glacier looks like.
(Image: YouTube screenshot)
What you're looking at, as NASA Jet Propulsion Lab researcher Alberto Behar explained in the video, is a very fine sediment that only comes with the movement of a glacier over rocks. Behar said when the camera went down, they were surprised because the lake was much shallower than they expected -- 1.6 meters instead of 10 meters.
The device used to explore the hole and the opening into Lake Whillans below is unique in and of itself. Micro-Submersible Lake Exploration Device. NASA describes the device, developed by the U.S. team of the international Whillans Ice Stream Sub-glacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project, as "instrument was a small robotic sub about the size and shape of a baseball bat."
Here you're seeing the inside of the borehole. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
"This is the first instrument ever to explore a sub-glacial lake outside of a borehole," Behar said in a statement. "It's able to take us places that are inaccessible by any other instruments in existence."
Watch this video about the expedition - what it took get get there, to drill and to capture the footage:
From water samples collected by the team, they identified microbial life in the lake water. NASA stated that such a discovery could "important implications for the search for life elsewhere in the universe."
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