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Antarctic Explorers Think They've Discovered New Lifeforms Buried Beneath Two Miles of Glaciers

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Analysis is expected by mid-May.

Photo: Shutterstock

A lake that's been buried beneath nearly 2 1/2 miles of ice for the better part of 15 million years could be home to life forms never before seen.

A team of Russian explorers cracked into the subglacial water of Lake Vostok in Antarctica for the first time back in 2012, drilling a 12,300-feet hole to reach beneath the ice, according to New Scientist.

The DNA contained in the water samples they obtained three years ago were unlike any others they'd seen before, leading them to believe that there could be unknown life forms just below their feet.

But those claims were challenged when it was discovered that the water samples might have also contained fluids used in the process of drilling. They think they might have raised the drill too quickly, causing the water to surge upward and mix with the drilling fluids.

So the explorers, determined to verify their previous claims, have taken a crack at the ice once again.

And now for the second time, Russian explorers have drilled more than 11,100 feet into the thickness of the ice to collect more samples – and this time they're confident the water isn't in any way contaminated. They were slow to raise the drill, allowing the water to rise within the borehole on its own and without running the mix of mixing it with other fluids.

New Scientist reported the explorers were then able to obtain the water samples that will be analyzed by sometime in May, according to Vladimir Lipenkov of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. Lipenkov co-led the exploration team along with Nikolay Vasiliev of the National Mineral Resources University.

Both the AARI and NMRU are located in St. Petersburg, Russia.

(H/T: New Scientist)

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